Florida Sports Betting Case: Appeals Court Denies Seminole Request to Keep App Online

Posted on: December 3, 2021, 08:13h. 

Last updated on: December 6, 2021, 08:37h.

A federal appeals court late Friday afternoon turned down a request by the Seminole Tribe of Florida to continue offering sports betting in the Sunshine State.

DC Circuit Court of Appeals
The courtroom at the US Circuit Court of the District of Columbia. On Friday, a three-judge panel ruled in a split decision against the Seminole Tribe, which sought a court order allowing it to continue offering mobile sports betting in Florida. (Image: Library of Congress)

The tribe sought a stay from the District of Columbia US Circuit Court of Appeals as it appealed a lower federal court’s decision. That ruling nullified the gaming compact it negotiated with Florida officials that gave the sovereign nation exclusive statewide rights to sports betting.

The three-judge panel stated that the appellant had not satisfied the requirements for a stay pending appeal. But this decision was not unanimous. US Circuit Court Judges Cornelia T.L. Pillard and Justin R. Walker voted against granting the stay. Judge Judith W. Rogers indicated she would have granted the motion.

Rogers did not give an explanation in the two-page order.

Seminole Tribe’s Next Steps

A spokesman for the Seminole Tribe told Casino.org Friday night that tribal leaders are reviewing the decision.

Despite the decision, the Seminole Tribe looks forward to a hearing from the Appeals Court based on the appeal previously filed by the Tribe and an expected appeal by the U.S. Department of Justice,” Gary Bitner told Casino.org.

Friday’s circuit court decision comes nine days after DC US District Judge Dabney Friedrich denied the tribe a stay of her order that threw out the gaming compact.

Friedrich ruled the gaming compact was invalid on Nov. 22. She sided with two Florida-based pari-mutuel operators that filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the gaming compact. The Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room sued Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and the Department of the Interior after it failed to make a decision on the compact after a 45-day review.

Per federal law, in those circumstances, compacts are considered to be approved to the extent they comply with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).

In appealing Friedrich’s ruling, the Seminole Tribe claims that it faces financial injuries by not being allowed to implement the new compact. The pact also gave the tribe rights to offer roulette and dice games at its casinos.

Tribal leaders also noted that the state will lose out on billions of dollars in revenue. The compact guaranteed the state $2.5 billion over its first five years, and $6 billion by 2030.

Hard Rock App Stayed Online Despite Rulings

Despite Freidrich’s order and her denial of its request, the Seminole Tribe has continued to offer mobile sports betting in the state through its Hard Rock Sportsbook app.

Gaming attorney Daniel Wallach earlier this week criticized the tribe for its actions. And Hamish Hume, a lawyer representing the pari-mutuel operators, has said the tribe was being “disingenuous” as it kept its app online despite the rulings.

Gambling.com Senior Betting Analyst Bill Speros reported the Hard Rock app was still taking bets in Florida two hours after the circuit court’s ruling.