West Flagler files sports betting challenge with Florida Supreme Court

Florida Supreme Court
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West Flagler and Associates has taken its legal challenge against the launch of sports betting in Florida to the state level challenging the compact signed by state Governor and presidential candidate Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The poker room firm has filed a constitutional challenge with the Florida Supreme Court against DeSantis and the Florida legislature for allowing the expansion of gambling in the Sunshine State including sports betting. 

The move comes after the Circuit Court opinion in the case suggested the proper venue to challenge the off-reservation elements of the tribal compact would be in the state courts.

Elsewhere, the group still has its motion of stay of the DC Circuit Court of Appeal’s mandate in the battle over sports betting. West Flagler is claiming that siding with the Department of the Interior – which is representing the Seminole Tribe – would undermine the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act

The DOI has filed a motion objecting to this request but West Flagler has indicated in court filings that it intends to appeal to the Supreme Court after its loss at the Circuit Court level.

Making up another strand of its legal case to prevent the Seminole Tribe from launching Hard Rock Bet, the filing from West Flagler claims that DeSantis, as well as Florida Speaker of the House Paul Renner and President of the Senate Kathleen Passidomo, went outside of their scope as political leaders in agreeing a compact with the tribe. 

DeSantis signed a compact with the Seminole Tribe back in April 2021 which would see the tribe share 13.8% of revenue with the state, yet sports betting was only live for a few weeks in November and December of that year before the federal court challenge shut it down.

West Flagler’s argument insists that the only way to expand gambling in Florida any further is by a constitutional amendment, therefore another public vote. It goes on to claim that the compact between the state and Seminole is beyond DeSantis’ authority. 

West Flagler’s latest filing reads: “The Governor exceeded his authority by entering into a compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida granting the Tribe the exclusive right to offer off-reservation online and in-person sports betting throughout the entire state and by signing legislation ratifying the 2021 Compact and making such wagers legal statewide. 

“The Legislature exceeded its authority by enacting the Implementing Law, which undid Florida’s existing blanket prohibition against sports betting, but only for the Tribe, its patrons and participating parimutuel facilities. 

“The 2021 Compact and Implementing Law are a clear expansion of casino gambling in Florida without a voter-approved constitutional amendment by citizens’ initiative, as required by Article X, Section 30. In so doing, the Respondents have exceeded their authority in direct violation of the Florida Constitution.”

West Flagler claims that the launch of Hard Rock Bet would unfairly take away its business in Florida, taking away footfall from its poker rooms and parimutuel offerings.

As of the time of writing, DeSantis’s office has yet to comment or respond to the constitutional challenge.