DOI asks for extension to respond in Florida SCOTUS petition

Extension cord
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After a recent filing from the Department of the Interior, it looks like it could be summertime before the Supreme Court of the United States potentially considers the legal challenge to tribal sports betting in Florida.

Last month, West Flagler and Associates filed its request for a writ of certiorari, noting three major questions the case addresses:

  1. Can an IGRA compact authorize gaming throughout an entire state?
  2. Can an IGRA compact violate the UIGEA?
  3. Does the approval of the Florida compact violate the Equal Protection Clause?

The writ request also took swipes at the structure of the Florida compact, which states that online sports bets originate on tribal lands if the servers are located there.

“The D.C. Circuit’s decision allows Florida and the Tribe to have their cake and eat it too. The whole point of the Compact is to provide a hook for dodging Florida’s constitutional requirement of a popular referendum to approve off-reservation sports betting,” the request wrote.

Attorney Daniel Wallach subsequently filed an amicus brief in the case that specifically looked at the language of the compact, particularly the use of the word “authorize” and how SCOTUS has previously interpreted that term in relation to other gambling cases.

Both Wallach and West Flagler also dedicated space to Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s opinion filed back in October that said there are concerns that this compact might violate not just IGRA but the Equal Protection Clause, as it potentially unilaterally authorizes the Seminole Tribe of Florida to operate gaming off-reservation.

The original deadline for the DOI to respond to West Flagler is March 13. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar has asked for an extension to April 12, citing “heavy press of earlier assigned cases to the attorneys handling this matter” as the reason for the delay.

Meanwhile, the Florida state Supreme Court case is still awaiting a ruling.