Seminole Tribe’s Online Sports Betting Faces Halt as Opposition Mounts

Attorneys representing two pari-mutuel companies have taken legal action to stop the Seminole Tribe’s online sports betting app after it was relaunched. West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. filed a motion at the Florida Supreme Court in response to the app being quietly reopened for certain gamblers to place wagers anywhere in the state. The crux of the issue revolves around whether the sports betting element of the gambling compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe is in violation of a 2018 constitutional amendment requiring voter approval for casino gambling.

The motion filed by the attorneys for the pari-mutuel companies seeks to immediately suspend the sports betting provisions of the online wagering platform while the legal battle is ongoing. They pointed out the urgency of the situation, noting that the Supreme Court is not likely to reach a verdict on the underlying challenge to the gambling compact until the following year. Meanwhile, the tribe is continuing to engage in off-reservation sports betting operations.

This legal wrangling has been ongoing for two years and centers on the gambling compact signed by Governor Ron DeSantis and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. The compact would allow the Seminoles to expand their gaming options in exchange for significant payments to the state. The current lawsuit is separate from a federal lawsuit that the pari-mutuel companies filed against the Tribe, which was recently rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The focus of the litigation is on the part of the deal that would permit the Seminoles to accept mobile sports wagers throughout the state through computer servers located on tribal property. After initially announcing their intentions to allow sports betting at their casinos in December, the Seminole Tribe went a step further by relaunching their app to a limited group of gamblers. This move has sparked concerns from the pari-mutuel companies about potential financial harm to their businesses. The Seminole Tribe, however, is offering only limited access to existing Florida customers to try out their online platform.