Attorneys for two pari-mutuel companies have asked the Florida Supreme Court to stop the Seminole Tribe’s online sports betting app following its relaunch. The move comes as the legal battle continues to play out between the tribe and the two companies, West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. The tribe quietly began allowing some gamblers to place wagers on the sports-betting app anywhere in Florida, prompting the companies’ attorneys to file a motion at the Supreme Court.
The motion is part of the ongoing litigation between the companies and the tribe over a gambling deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe. This deal would permit online sports betting, which the companies argue is a violation of a 2018 constitutional amendment requiring voter approval of casino gambling. With the case pending, the pari-mutuel companies are seeking to immediately suspend the sports betting provisions of a law that carried out the gambling deal.
The companies’ attorneys say that the tribe’s launch of the mobile betting application without prior warning creates an urgent need for the Supreme Court’s intervention. They argue that the tribe’s actions could result in the tribe profiting from sports bets that may later be found to have been authorized in contravention of the Florida Constitution.
The legal wrangling over the gambling deal has been ongoing for two years, with Gov. Ron DeSantis and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. signing the compact in 2021. The deal also allowed the Seminoles to add craps and roulette to their Florida casinos and to build three new casinos on tribal property in Broward County.
This is not the first time the tribe has faced legal challenges related to its sports betting operation. In 2021, they briefly launched an app to allow sports wagering throughout the state, but it was shut down amidst a federal lawsuit filed by the pari-mutuel companies. However, the U.S. Supreme Court recently refused to block the deal in that lawsuit, which is separate from the Florida Supreme Court case.
The focus of the ongoing litigation has been on the part of the deal that permits gamblers to place mobile sports wagers anywhere in the state. Despite a recent announcement that the tribe would begin allowing sports betting at its casinos in December, it has now gone further by allowing online sports bets from a limited group of gamblers.
The Supreme Court has not indicated whether it will take up the underlying challenge to the gambling deal. Meanwhile, the two pari-mutuel companies are concerned that they could be financially impacted if the tribe is able to offer online sports betting statewide, as they continue to contest the deal in court.