Seminole Tribe “Misleading the Court” in Fla. Sports Betting Case

Posted on: November 26, 2021, 10:41h. 

Last updated on: November 26, 2021, 04:13h.

An attorney representing two Florida-based pari-mutuel operators that won a federal court ruling earlier this week told Casino.org Friday that the tribe is “trying to have it both ways.” That’s as it appeals the decision to throw out the amended gaming compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state of Florida and keep its sports betting app online.

Florida sign
A Welcome to Florida sign greets travelers as they enter the state. A lawyer representing two Florida parimutuel operators said Friday the Seminole Tribe is “being disingenuous” as it continues to offer sports betting in the state while trying to have a order reversed that said the gaming compact allowing sports betting in the state was thrown out because it went against federal law. (Image: Getty)

District of Columbia US District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled Monday that federal officials should not have approved the compact, which gave the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to sports betting statewide. That includes mobile access and a hub-and-spoke network that would allow bettors to wager at select pari-mutuel operators. Friedrich said that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) prohibits betting made off tribal lands.

The Seminole Tribe has offered mobile sports betting in Florida since the beginning of the month.

On Tuesday, a day after Friedrich issued her order, the Seminole Tribe gave notice it would appeal and also asked the judge to stay her order. After Friedrich denied the stay request on Wednesday, tribal leaders filed an emergency appeal Thursday for a stay in the DC US Circuit Court of Appeals.

The stay would allow the Hard Rock Sportsbook to stay operational while the appeal of the decision is adjudicated.

According to social media reports, the sports betting app remains active in Florida as of Friday morning.

Hume: Seminole Tribe ‘Being Disingenuous’

Hamish Hume, a lawyer with Boies Schiller Flexner, told Casino.org Friday that tribal leaders “are being disingenuous” as they seek a reversal. The DC-based law firm represents the Magic City Casino and the Bonita Springs Poker Room, which filed the lawsuit against the US Department of the Interior and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, claiming the amended compact violated federal law.

Hume took issue with the claims of a “dire emergency” after the compact was invalidated.

“They wouldn’t meet the standards for a stay even if they stopped the online sports betting, but by continuing to offer it – and refusing to commit to cease if they fail to get a stay – they are being disingenuous and misleading to the court,” Hume told Casino.org.

A message to a Seminole Gaming spokesperson was not immediately returned early Friday afternoon.

In the emergency appeal to the circuit court Thursday, the Seminole leaders said the plaintiffs sought “an end around” by filing suit against the federal government and not the tribe. The tribe sought to intervene in the case and have it dismissed at the federal district court. But Friedrich noted in her ruling that the agency and Haaland represented the tribe’s arguments in their case.

If the appeals fail and the amended compact remains invalid, the Seminole Tribe stands to lose out not only on sports betting, but access to new casino games and the possibility of opening new casinos. The state, meanwhile, would not receive $2.5 billion in payments over the next five years and $6 billion through 2030.

Major Football Games This Weekend

By keeping the sports betting app operational, the Seminole Tribe has been able to offer betting on college and pro football games for Thanksgiving weekend, which is one of the biggest weekends in the sport.

Besides having three NFL games with exclusive national audiences on Thanksgiving, college football wraps up its regular season with many rivalry games. That includes Florida vs. Florida State, a matchup of the two highest-profile teams in the state, and Auburn vs. Alabama, a massive rivalry that many in the southeastern US will be watching Saturday.

On Friday, the circuit court announced that the pari-mutuel operators were ordered to submit a response to the stay request by noon Tuesday. The tribe can submit a rebuttal by noon Wednesday.

The tribe requested a decision on the stay by next Friday.

This story may be updated.

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