West Flagler files last-ditch effort to keep FL sports betting offline

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Image: Shutterstock / I am Em

On Friday, West Flagler and Associates filed a motion to stay the mandate in its case against the Seminole, DOI, and others. If granted, it would keep Florida’s Hard Rock Sportsbook offline until the case reaches a resolution in the Supreme Court.

Last week, the court declined to grant an en banc rehearing of the case, upholding the Circuit Court ruling in favor of the defendants.

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals is set to issue the mandate on Sept. 18, but the last-minute filing argues its issuance could cause irreparable harm to the plaintiffs and the state of Florida. Once the mandate is issued, Hard Rock Sportsbook can choose to come back online in the state, opening up Florida sports betting. As West Flagler argues, this upending of gambling in the state merits the court’s consideration:

“Unless the mandate is stayed, this Court’s decision will upset the status quo in the entirety of Florida by permitting the Tribe to conduct online sports gaming throughout the State where no such gaming previously has been permitted and where the Florida constitution requires that any expansion of gaming within the State be subject to a citizens’ initiative with 60% of the vote…Moreover, the Panel Opinion’s unprecedented interpretation of IGRA may well be used by other states and tribes as a blueprint for expanding gaming outside of Indian lands where such gaming generally is not permitted in a state.”

In the motion, the plaintiffs make it clear they plan to appeal this case to the Supreme Court. Additionally, the motion asks that if the Circuit Court does deny the stay, the court at least delay the issuance of the mandate long enough for West Flagler to take the issue of a stay to SCOTUS.

The motion also discussed the possibility this issue ends up in the state courts, as suggested in the Circuit Court opinion, arguing that tribal sovereignty could derail attempts to address the matter there:

“Although the Panel Opinion suggests that state courts may review the propriety of such an agreement, tribes may well successfully assert sovereign immunity to avoid any such inquiry, thereby permitting state officials and tribes to use the federal IGRA process to circumvent state restrictions on expansions of gaming.”

Attorney Daniel Wallach, who has been following the Florida case closely, explained on Twitter that the likelihood to court will grant the request for a stay is slim: