Federal judges are reviewing the decision to strike down charter sports betting in Florida, at the request of federal government attorneys. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Sports betting in Florida to make a comeback?
Attorneys for the federal government have asked an appeals court to reverse a decision to void Florida’s sports betting agreement with the Seminole tribe.
Three judges of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit welcomed arguments on Wednesday from a diverse group of officials and representatives of Florida, the Seminole tribe, and the US Department of the Interior.
Within its power to allow the tribes to come to a monopoly agreement
The court has to decide whether Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who is in charge of an agency that monitors tribal gambling, is within her power to allow the tribes to reach a monopoly agreement with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The referees will mainly focus on the Indian Games Regulatory Act, which deals with games on domestic soils.
problem with the form
The deal between Florida and the Seminoles lasted less than one month before it was rejected by a federal judge. It was considered controversial because the governing law states that all bets must be made on tribal land, but through the agreement, bettors are allowed to place bets from the comfort of their own home.
The Seminoles defended the plan by referring to a “hub-and-spoke model,” similar to that used by New Jersey. He argued that all stakes were processed on tribal lands, thus making the stakes legally attached to Native American land despite starting elsewhere.
The agreement stipulated that the Seminoles pay the Florida government a minimum of $2.5 billion over the first five years of its operation. In return, they will have complete control over their statewide sports betting operations and will also be able to add craps and roulette to their casino offering.
Alias for dancing around the real law
However, critics objected to the so-called hub-and-spoke model. They felt it was a pseudonym to dance around the real law, approved by voters in 2018, that requires players to place bets on Native American lands.
Several casino members and local non-tribal businessmen filed lawsuits against Haaland after the deal was approved. Her silence, they argued, was a vote of assent in the matter, and she was complicit in allowing an inherently illegal charter to be formed.
Siding with the plaintiffs in the original 2021 case, Judge Dabney L. Friedrich of the US District Court in Washington, D.C., overturned the deal. It determined that Haaland had erred when he allowed the deal to pass without interference.
“Considering ‘their activity happening where it does not,’ as matter of fact”
“despite the deal”[s]All sports betting takes place at the tribe’s sportsbook site.[s]“And the supporting servers… This court cannot accept this fantasy,” Friedrich wrote in her decision. “Where a federal law authorizes activity in specified locations only, parties may not evade that restriction by ‘considering’ their activity to occur where, as a matter of fact, it does not.”
An appeals court then compounded the tribe’s problems, finding that they had failed to show any clear and present danger that would come from terminating its sports betting operations.
Despite the multiple failures, attorney Rachel Herron defended Haaland during Wednesday’s hearing.
“[Haaland] Heron said as he appealed to the judge to reinstate the deal:
Seminole attorney Barry Richard said the law “wasn’t supposed to limit gambling on Indian soil, it was to restrict states from regulating gambling on Indian soil.”
An opposition attorney later responded by saying that the federal government was “trying to get it both ways.”