West Flagler Associates Challenges Seminole Sports Betting App in Florida Supreme Court
In an ongoing legal battle, West Flagler Associates, the parimutuel operator, has taken their fight against the Seminole sports betting monopoly in Florida to the State Supreme Court. The operator is seeking to shut down the tribe’s mobile sportsbook, which they claim is unconstitutional.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida recently relaunched their controversial statewide sports betting app, despite efforts by West Flagler to block it. The operator has been contesting the 2021 gaming compact, which gave the Seminoles a monopoly on sports betting, roulette, and craps, arguing that it violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and the equal protection clause of the US constitution.
West Flagler, which operates the Bonita Springs Poker Room and formerly owned the Magic City Casino in Miami, has been engaged in a legal battle with the Seminoles in both state and federal courts. However, a federal appellate panel ruled in favor of the Seminoles, prompting West Flagler to take the issue to the Florida Supreme Court.
The operator’s complaint alleges that the tribe will profit from the app while the legal case is pending, potentially raking in millions of dollars in sports bets that may eventually be found to have been authorized in contravention of the Florida Constitution.
The crux of the legal battle revolves around whether the Seminoles’ sports betting app, which has statewide coverage, complies with IGRA’s requirement that tribal gaming take place on tribal land. The tribe and the State of Florida argue that the app’s servers are based on tribal land and that the bets are processed there, thus meeting the requirements of the statute.
Additionally, West Flagler claims that the 2021 gaming compact violates a 2018 amendment to the Florida constitution, which mandates a public vote on any proposed casino gaming expansion. The state contends that this amendment only pertains to commercial sports betting outside of a tribal compact.
As the legal battle continues, the Seminole sports betting app has gone live to a limited number of users, sparking further controversy and intensifying the legal wrangling between the two parties.