Addressing legal issues related to the future of sports betting in Florida
Though it’s more advanced than many ever thought Florida Sports betting still has a journey ahead of them.
With news that Governor Ron DeSantis the new contract between the State of Florida and the Seminole tribe of Florida According to a special session of the Florida Legislature, this means that the next stop in the pact is a trip up I-95 for review by the federal government Home Office.
The key question that many across the country are following closely is whether the Home Office supports the Pact’s mobile sports betting provision. While it is hardly the first state to have reached an agreement with Tribes to offer sports betting in FL over the internet and on mobile devices, this is the first time voice has been included in a new contract sent for review.
What is happening in Washington?
If a compact from Florida, Connecticut, Arizona, or elsewhere goes to the Ministry of the Interior, a 45 days Window begins to tick. After the 45-day window has expired, the Minister of the Interior must approve or reject the pact.
However, if none of the actions are taken, the contract is deemed to have been approved by the agency.
Does approval equate to approval?
Functionally, the accepted approval works in the same way as the approval. Legally, however, the money seems to be on the street, which allows for a future appeal in court.
We recently saw this approach applied to multiple sports betting agreements between multiple tribes of Oklahoma and the state governor Kevin Stitt. These compacts were later made invalid by the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Questions about Florida mobile sports betting
During the special session of the state legislature, a document was circulated arguing that for various reasons it was legal for the state and the Seminole tribe to opt out of FL mobile sports betting.
The document cited an Oklahoma arbitration award written by an Oklahoma attorney who believed that the Iowa tribe of Oklahoma might offer Online poker over the internet. This decision has questionable precedent for several reasons that we have already set out, but the fact that arbitration decisions generally have no precedent is an important factor.
The California case, which relates to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, gives no helpful authority over where a bet is placed. Effectively the Ninth Circuit of Appeals found that the location of a server for the purpose of their analysis Not the determining factor in where a bingo bet was placed.
The Ninth District Desert Rose Bingo case, citing a 2014 Michigan Supreme Court v Bay Mills Indian Community, argues:
‘Game activity’ under IGRA [the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act] is ‘gambling in the poker hall’ as opposed to ‘external licensing or operation of the games’.
The government (in California v Iipay Nation; both the state and federal governments sued the tribe) argued:
that the “gamble” in this case is the customer’s decision to wager money on the bingo game that takes place outside of the Indian countries.
The case of the Bay Mills Indian Community
The question for the Bay Mills Supreme Court to investigate was whether a tribe would maintain its sovereign immunity when opening a casino outside of tribal areas.
The Supreme Court upheld the tribe’s immunity from lawsuits even for off-reservation incidents. Those responsible are still the subject of a lawsuit, but not the tribal unit itself.
Why is this case relevant?
The problem in this case might have turned out differently if IGRA had been applicable, since IGRA obliges states and tribes to an agreement that partially limits the sovereignty of a tribal nation.
This might have enabled the state to sue the tribe. Since IGRA only applies to “gambling activities on Indian land …” the state has had no luck suing a tribe for behavior in a casino outside the tribal country.
Not a perfect comparison for FL sports betting
As pointed out by some of the most respected lawyers in the field, these cases are not a perfect analogy to Florida sports betting. In all of the above cases there was a dispute between a state and a tribe.
That is not the case in Florida. In fact, we have an agreement in Florida. Disregarding the Oklahoma arbitration because it has no precedent, the Iipay Nation case involved behavior the state of California refused to allow. Likewise, Michigan declined to open a new facility away from tribal areas in Bay Mills. Again, the case in Florida is significantly different. There is an agreement between the governor and the tribe. There’s also legislature approval, a flaw in the recent Oklahoma Pacts.
IGRA policy statement
One of the political goals of the IGRA was to provide the tribes with a foundation to promote economic development and to promote a regulated environment for gambling. It was passed in 1988 and clearly did not take into account the existence of the internet.
What’s Coming for Florida Sports Betting?
The experts are divided as to whether these contracts will be approved and ultimately withstand all legal challenges to their existence.
One side argues that IGRA’s intent was to effectively allow tribes and states to freely consent to game play. Others take a narrower view that seems to rule out mobile betting.
We’ll get a first impression of which direction this compact might take in a little less than 45 days.