Online sports betting in Florida remains suspended two years after it was anticipated to be made accessible via smartphones. The hold-up is due to a series of legal challenges by local pari-mutuel owners against the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The pari-mutuel owners contend that the agreement grants the tribe undue gaming control and that it lacks the legal rights to operate statewide online sports betting, considering their jurisdiction is limited to their physical properties.
Despite the tribe’s sports betting model gaining favor in a lower court’s ruling, a block has been instituted on online betting by U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts, ordering a comprehensive review. The decision is being regarded as a significant milestone particularly for the anti-gambling group ‘No Casinos’, which had supported an amendment in 2018 necessitating voters’ approval for any gambling expansion in Florida.
John Sowinski, a representative of ‘No Casinos’, cursorily endorses total rejection of the Seminole Tribe compact that, if accepted, would provide the tribe with control over statewide gambling. This includes platforms for Vegas-style games and online sports betting, and could yield an estimated $2.5 billion in state revenue in the first five years of a 30-year contract. Therefore, the compact is currently being scrutinized in both federal and state courts.
Sowinski insists on the deference of the people’s rights and urges the Florida Supreme Court to safeguard voting outcomes from political interference both in Florida’s capital Tallahassee and in Washington. ‘No Casinos’ is expected to file a brief in the state lawsuit in order to block the gambling compact on the forthcoming Monday.
Reaching out to the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the attorney representing the plaintiffs for comments regarding the high court’s decision has so far proved futile, but an update will be provided upon receiving their responses.