Appeal to Florida Supreme Court for Suspension of Sports Betting

The mobile sports betting app, Hard Rock Bet, was relaunched in Florida to the surprise of gambling businesses in the state. After the Seminole Tribe’s sudden move, a group of gambling businesses that had been challenging sports betting in Florida filed a request with the state Supreme Court to “immediately suspend” sports betting in the state, particularly the off-reservation sports betting facilitated by the mobile app.

Legal experts knew that the motion, filed by West Flagler Associates and its partners, was the next logical step in one of the two ongoing lawsuits that seek to block the gaming compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe. The gaming compact would grant the tribe a monopoly on sports betting and bring in billions of dollars in revenue.

The lawsuit centers around the amendment to Florida’s gambling laws – which requires voter approval for expansions – and tribal servers hosting the sports betting taking place on tribal lands instead of off-reservation. West Flagler is representing multiple pari-mutuels in the state.

The motion filed by West Flagler requests the court to suspend the sports betting provisions of the compact to maintain “status quo” and avoid “irreparable harm” to citizens and non-tribal gambling businesses. Whether the suspension will affect both in-person and mobile sports betting is unclear.

Bob Jarvis, a gambling law professor, interpreted the motion as broad enough to include both in-person and mobile betting, while Daniel Wallach, a national sports gambling expert, believes the motion refers specifically to mobile sports betting. The court is expected to make a decision on the motion soon, with experts predicting a ruling by the end of next week.

Wallach also noted that the chances of the DeSantis administration and the Seminoles prevailing in the lawsuit are high, given that five of the seven Florida Supreme Court justices are DeSantis appointees. He stressed that the court has never issued a “writ of quo warranto” against the governor, but the current lawsuit might provide the right opportunity.