Seminole Tribe Slammed For Taking Sports Bets in Florida Despite Judge’s Order
Posted on: December 3, 2021, 12:59h.
Last updated on: December 6, 2021, 08:45h.
UPDATE (10:45 pm ET) – This article has been updated in response to the federal appeals court’s decision Friday night against the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
SECAUCUS, NJ – A leading gaming attorney has said that the continued operation of the Hard Rock sportsbook app in Florida not only breaks federal and state laws but could also affect licenses for other companies. The comments were made as Seminole Gaming seeks a stay of a federal judge’s order that prohibits it from offering sports betting across Florida.
Daniel Wallach spoke about the federal lawsuit involving the Florida gaming compact during a Wednesday afternoon conference session on the Wire Act of the SBC Summit North America. That’s a two-day sports betting and iGaming conference at the Meadowlands Exposition Center.
The Seminole Gaming case came up during the session because lawsuits seeking to block the compact have cited the 60-year-old law as one of the reasons why the gaming compact should be blocked.
After Friedrich denied the Seminole Tribe’s request for a stay last week, the tribe made an emergency appeal to the DC US Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay. That would allow it to continue offering mobile sports betting while the tribe appeals to the judge’s order.
Wallach: Hard Rock Vendors May Face Licensing Issues
Despite Friedrich’s order and the initial denial of the stay, the Hard Rock sportsbook has continued to accept bets in Florida.
Wallach said that Freidrich’s order made it “crystal clear” that doing that is illegal. He noted that the American Gaming Association, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, and the US industry, in general, have done a good job in raising awareness on illegal offshore gaming activities.
At the very least, Wallach said those activities violate the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the Travel Act, and the Illegal Gambling Business Act.
Wallach also said regulators in other states that have licensed vendors and operators working with the Hard Rock app need to look into the issue as well. If he was their attorney, Wallach said he’d tell the vendors to stop doing work in Florida immediately.
In a court filing Wednesday, the tribe said Friedrich’s order produced “an immediate chilling effect,” as some vendors have stopped doing business with its gaming operations.
It also said that the tribe will defend its case against claims made previously by the pari-mutuels. The idea that it would continue to operate illegal gaming “is simply false.”
Circuit Court Denies Seminole Request
Late Friday afternoon, a three-judge panel from the federal appeals court denied the Seminole Tribe’s request to keep its sports betting app online in Florida while the appeal is being considered.
A spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe said tribal leaders are reviewing the ruling.
“The Seminole Tribe is aware of today’s Appeals Court decision and is carefully considering the steps it will take as a result,” Gary Bitner said. “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.”