Florida’s fight to bring sports betting to the state is headed back to court. A federal judge already shut the state down once, but the story didn’t end there. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is involved now and is ready to do what it takes to support Florida. The next stop is a federal appeals court in Washington, DC.
Florida Losing Ground
The DOJ appealed the November 22 ruling of US District Judge Dabney Friedrich that invalidated the compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Friedrich approved a challenge by two South Florida gambling rooms that questioned the Seminole’s authority to operate sports betting. The judge decided that the US Department of Interior (DoI) had incorrectly approved the gambling compact.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state were ready to move forward, but Friedrich’s ruling made the DoI the loser. Sports betting was launched and then stopped less than a month later.
All the gambling expansions that were planned by the Seminole Tribe through the Gambling Compact have been halted, including its Hard Rock Sportsbook online betting service. The $500 million in revenue sharing that the state was expected to receive each year is now off the table, as well.
Revenue sharing is reverted back to the $350 million or so Florida was entitled to under the previous 2010 gambling compact. However, the Seminole have already warned that the agreement faces termination if it doesn’t get its way.
DOJ Takes on a Judge
Wednesday’s filing to the US Court of Appeals in DC showed that the federal government intended to appeal Friedrich’s decision on three grounds, according to Scott Powers of media outlet Florida Politics. The appeal contests the judge’s decision to not hear an appeal for dismissal contests the judge’s decision and contests whether he erred in tossing the compact.
Friedrich’s decision to invalidate the 2021 Gambling Compact has disrupted long-term plans for major casino expansions of the Seminole Tribe and also prevented the addition and maintenance of some immediate gambling options.
However, the biggest impact was on sports gambling. It is a fast and hugely popular new form of gambling in Florida. The compact enabled Florida adults to place wagers with the Seminoles using their smartphones and tablets. The Hard Rock Sportsbook online betting app was launched on November 1, but the federal court decision was shut down three weeks later.