SCOTUS lifts stay keeping Hard Rock Bet offline in Florida

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One obstacle to Hard Rock Bet relaunching in the state is out of the way thanks to the latest filing from the US Supreme Court.

On Wednesday, Chief Justice John Roberts denied West Flagler’s request for an extended stay of the mandate issued by the Circuit Court of Appeals in the case.

The court had previously issued a temporary mandate earlier this month that is now vacated. In theory, this could open the door for the Seminole Nation to relaunch online sports betting in the state. However, with two court cases still pending, the tribe could opt for a conservative approach and stay offline.

While the Supreme Court has denied the request, West Flagler still has time to fill its writ of certiorari petitioning the court to hear the case. West Flagler has indicated it will file its request with the court by Nov. 20.

While there was no written opinion from Roberts regarding his decision, Justice Brett Kavanaugh did file a short opinion of his own regarding the case and its potential implications regarding the Equal Protection Clause.

“I agree that the stay application should be denied in light of the DC Circuit’s pronouncement that the compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe authorizes the Tribe to conduct only on-reservation gambling operations, and not off-reservation gaming operations…If the compact authorized the Tribe to conduct off-reservation gaming operations, either directly or by deeming off-reservation gaming operations to somehow be on-reservation, then the compact would likely violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, as the District Court explained,” Kavanaugh wrote in a separate opinion.

Kavanaugh also acknowledged that the off-reservation component between the Seminole and the state was being challenged at the state level. Nonetheless, he cautioned that an exclusive deal where the tribe is the only group allowed to offer online betting could be problematic.

“To the extent that a separate Florida statute (as distinct from the compact) authorizes the Seminole Tribe–and only the Seminole Tribe–to conduct certain off-reservation gaming operations in Florida, the state law raises serious equal protection issues,” he added.

The Equal Protection Clause, which is part of the 14th Amendment, specifies that no state can deny a person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law. West Flagler also cited the Equal Protection Clause in its application with the Supreme Court earlier in October.