Leaders in the Sunshine State are urging the state Supreme Court to reject a petition by West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation to strike down a sports betting agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
In a lengthy brief filed late last week, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody argues in favor of the compact, which was originally agreed to in 2021, on behalf of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and leaders from chambers of the state legislature.
The state respondents argue that the petition “fails on the merits” because sports betting is not considered “casino gambling.” The two companies filing the petition contend that a 2018 Florida constitutional amendment that requires voters to approve casino gambling agreements applies to sports betting.
“Sports betting is not ‘casino gambling’ as that term is defined in the Florida Constitution, because it is not the ‘type of game typically found in casinos,'” the filing said.
Moody further argues that voters would have understood that types of games included in the amendment as casino games were “fixed at the time” and did not include sports betting.
“Petitioners allege that — at least today — sports betting is, as an empirical matter, often conducted in casinos. … That hinges on the theory that the typicality requirement looks to modern circumstances, not the circumstances voters would have understood at ratification. The text dispels that view,” the filing said.
The challenge at the state Supreme Court is one of two the compact faces, even as it cleared a major hurdle in October when the U.S. Supreme Court denied a bid to block the deal.
The petition is mainly seeking to block the allowance of sports betting on a mobile app in the state off of tribal territory. The challenges in court come as the Seminole Tribe of Florida fully relaunches its sports betting app in the state on Tuesday.
In-person sports betting at casinos in the state is set to relaunch beginning on Thursday, according to the tribe, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an emergency bid to block the gambling deal in October.