The owners of Magic City Casino in Miami-Dade County and Bonita Springs Poker Room in Southwest Florida filed the complaint on Friday, claiming that a sports-betting scheme approved by lawmakers in May violates federal law. Lawmakers supported the idea as part of a gaming “compact” last spring by Gov. Ron DeSantis and tribe officials.
The Seminoles would act as a hub for sports betting, which has previously been prohibited in Florida.
Gamblers from throughout the state may place bets online, with the wagers being processed by computer servers on tribal land.
However, the 67-page complaint claims, among other things, that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act does not allow bets to be placed from off tribal territories. In addition, the complaint claims that the plan’s structure is an attempt to avoid a 2018 state constitutional change that needs voter permission for gambling expansions.
Sports betting was the most publicized aspect of the agreement made by DeSantis and tribe officials in April. The deal, which lawmakers unanimously passed during a special legislative session, calls for the tribe to pay the state $2.5 billion over the first five years in exchange for authority over internet sports betting. Other perks include the tribe’s ability to offer craps and roulette at its casinos.
The sports betting portion of the agreement still has to be approved by the US Department of the Interior, which regulates tribal gambling. In May, lawmakers indicated that they expected legal challenges.
In May, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, told reporters, “Obviously, having this sort of arrangement, you’re negotiating kind of the icebergs of legal difficulties.” An attorney, Sprowls, said it was an “open issue” whether a legal challenge would succeed.
You know, sensible people don’t always agree. Some have looked at it and said, ‘Hey, I don’t believe it’ll make it.’ I had a look at it. I believe it will. The fact is that a court will decide it
In an interview with The News Service of Florida last month, Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming, said he expected legal challenges. However, he emphasized the plan’s benefits to the state.
The tribe would contract with pari-mutuel facilities to help advertise sports betting, according to the plan. According to the complaint, this would involve providing betting kiosks at pari-mutuel facilities.
However, the complaint, filed by attorneys from the Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney firm, claims that if the plan is implemented, pari-mutuels will be disadvantaged. It stated that
pari-mutuels who are unable or choose not to engage into a marketing deal with the tribe are entirely barred from offering sports betting.
The Havenick family, long-time participants in the state’s pari-mutuel sector, runs the Magic City and Bonita Springs establishments. The complaint, which seeks an injunction, also claims that the sports betting scheme violates federal statutes such as the Wire Act of 1961 and the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act.