Florida server judgement deems sports betting illegal

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The Federal Court has deemed Florida’s sports betting law, which gave the Seminole Tribe a de facto monopoly, violates federal Indian Gaming Law, instantly rendering sports betting illegal once again in the Sunshine State. 

Judge Dabney L Friedrich dismissed the argument that sports betting was occurring on tribal grounds because of the location of the server taking those bets and has ordered the 30-year gaming compact be rolled back to its 2010 version.

Florida citizens had been allowed to bet since 1 November, but will no longer be able to do so. The ruling will further stop Seminole casinos offering roulette and craps to patrons at venues – leaving a $2.5bn hole in the state’s funding plans. 

In her judgement, Freidrich wrote: “Although the Compact ‘deem[s]’ all sports betting to occur at the location of the Tribe’s ‘sports book[s]’ and supporting servers… this Court cannot accept that fiction.

“When a federal statute authorizes an activity only at specific locations, parties may not evade that limitation by ‘deeming’ their activity to occur where it, as a factual matter, does not.”

Freidrich said that the State was welcome to come to a new compact with tribal leaders, so long as it did not violate federal law. Any expansion of gambling activities outside a tribal compact would require voter approval, something that FanDuel and DraftKings are already working towards. 

The court’s judgement sees the legislative development of sports betting within Florida, the third most populous state in the US, return back to square one. 

Gaming law & sports betting attorney Daniel Wallach of Wallach Legal had warned earlier this year about the limitations of the tribal compact and was scathing about the whole process.