The state of Florida responded to West Flagler’s sports betting challenge over the weekend and, unsurprisingly, argued that the group lacked standing to bring the case to the state Supreme Court.
At the heart of the argument was the matter of time it took before West Flagler filed at the state level. While West Flagler has been pursuing this case at the federal several for a couple of years, it only filed with the state after the Circuit Court ruled against the group and said the matter was up for a state court and not a federal one.
“Petitioners’ delay in filing this action—two and a half years from the compact taking effect—is unjustifiable,” the filing read.
“The fact that Petitioners bet the farm on successfully defending their dubious district-court victory on appeal, only to lose their federal suit…is no excuse for their more-than-two-year delay in bringing their state-law claims to this Court, which they knew full well would be live if they lost the appeal.”
The response cited other cases in which the Florida courts have thrown out quo warranto requests because they were not filed with immediacy. The state also argued that quo warranto action, which is typically reserved for removing people from public office and not for challenging a specific law, is not appropriate for this case.
Similarly to the Maverick Gaming challenge to tribal sports betting in Washington, the state also argued that the Seminole Tribe of Florida cannot be enjoined in this legal action as a result of their sovereignty, yet the case cannot proceed without their involvement.
Finally, the argument went into a detailed discussion of what meets the definition of “casino gambling”. Parsing through the language, the state suggests that, at the time the compact was signed, sports betting was not “typically found in casinos” and did not meet the definition of gaming outlined in the state constitution. Therefore, they suggest it did not violate the constitution by not taking the compact to the voters for approval.
West Flagler now has until Dec. 21 to file a response brief. In the meantime, the Supreme Court of the United States has granted West Flagler an extension to file a writ of certiorari until Feb. 8 to give time for the state case to reach a conclusion.
In the meantime, Hard Rock Hollywood continues to move forward with its retail sports betting and expanded table games launch later this week.