Florida Supreme Court denies petition from West Flagler

West Flagler
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West Flagler has received an unfavorable result from its challenging of a Florida gaming compact.

The casino operator has been denied its petition for a writ of quo warranto by Florida’s Supreme Court as it challenges a compact that provides the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to offer online wagering in Florida. West Flagler argues that a Florida gaming compact from 2021 should have all online sports betting language removed. The operator asked the Florida Supreme Court to declare the online wagering compact unconstitutional as it argues that the state’s governor and legislature have exceeded their authority.

Florida’s Supreme Court has denied West Flagler’s petition for a writ of quo warranto for several reasons, including it not fitting within the scope of what the operator is challenging.

“But quo warranto is not, and has never been, the proper vehicle to obtain a declaration as to the substantive constitutionality of an enacted law,” said the court.

In the past, a writ of quo warranto has been used to “test the right of a person to hold an office of franchise or exercise some right or privilege the peculiar powers of which are derived from the state.” The Florida Supreme Court reiterated the application of a writ of quo warranto to state officers and state agencies in its response to West Flagler.

The court also has denied the petition due to West Flagler waiting “too long to seek relief,” according to documents. Florida’s Supreme Court added that the Seminole Tribe not being included as a party in West Flagler’s petition was also a factor in its decision.

West Flagler gains support

Earlier this month, Florida Gambling Opponents filed an amicus brief amid West Flagler’s petition. The group argued that the Department of Interior overrode its statutory duty by upholding the Seminole Tribe’s compact. It also pointed out a constitutional amendment.

Amendment X is discussed in the brief as an argument challenging the legality of sports betting in Florida. The constitutional amendment, passed in 2018, requires a vote by Florida residents on any major casino gambling expansion before it can be signed into law.

Florida Gambling Opponents, which is comprised of local business and community members, joins attorney Daniel Wallach as parties that have filed briefs in the case.

The fate of West Flagler’s efforts is also in the hands of the SCOTUS. In December, the operator filed a writ of certiorari with the court. West Flagler argues that the compact permits gaming outside of tribal lands, which violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

West Flagler can also raise its compact issue in a circuit court behind Amendment 3, which was not addressed by the Florida Supreme Court. The amendment provides voters with the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida.”