Court rejects Seminole Tribe’s second request to stay Florida online sports betting ruling


TALLAHASSEE – A District of Columbia Court of Appeals panel on Friday dealt another blow to the efforts of the Florida Seminole tribe to control online sports betting in Florida and ruled the tribe had failed to show that She would suffer irreparable harm if she were forced to stop her sports exploiting the book while she appealed a lower court ruling.

Ruling leaves Justice Dabney’s Nov. 22 ruling in place L. Friedrich of the District of Columbia, U.S. District Court, which struck down the multi-billion dollar, 30-year gambling deal with the state known as the Pact. The judges ruled by curiam that the deal on sports betting and the tribe’s casino expansion violated India’s federal gambling law and that US Home Secretary Deb Haaland, whose agency oversees tribal games, had erred in authorizing the agreement.

The tribe is appealing the decision and asked the appeals court to suspend or temporarily stop the effect of the decision pending the appeal. But in the brief ruling by a three-judge panel Friday night, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the tribe’s emergency motion for a stay was dismissed because it ” did not meet the strict requirements for a stay pending appeal. . “

The move now raises the stakes for the online sports betting operation the Seminole Tribe launched on November 1. Friedrich ruled that the operation was illegal, but his decision is not self-executing. If the tribe decides not to stop its sports betting, it will be up to the US Department of Justice, the National Indian Gaming Commission, or Friedrich to take action to force them to stop.

In a statement released on Friday, the tribe did not say whether or not they would end the games as they continued their appeal.

“The Seminole Tribe is aware of today’s appeal court decision and is carefully considering what action they will take as a result,” said Gary Bitner, spokesperson for the tribe. “Despite the ruling, the Seminole Tribe is anxiously awaiting a court of appeals hearing based on the tribe’s previously filed appeal and an appeal awaited by the US Department of Justice.”

Dustin Thomas, chief of staff of the National Indian Gaming Commission, which oversees tribal activities, told the Miami Herald Friday that “the National Indian Gaming Commission does not comment on potential investigations or pending litigation, but is aware of the judge’s ruling in the West Flagler case and is monitoring the situation closely.”

The tribe’s argument for the stay failed

The tribe had argued that failure to stay the decision would cause “irreparable damage” to the sovereignty and economic interests of the Seminol tribe. If forced to shut down his sports betting app, he said it would put hundreds of jobs at risk for employees and vendors already hired to work on gaming operations.

The tribe told the court it made two revenue sharing payments of $ 37.5 million to the state as part of the pact, signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis and approved by the Florida legislature in May. He also hired hundreds of employees and spent over $ 25 million to develop the online bookmaker.

But West Flagler Associates, owners of Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs poker room, accused the tribe of being “dishonest with the court over their alleged irreparable harm.”

“While telling the court that in the absence of an emergency stay, he” risks losing “tens of millions of income, he tells his clients (more than a week after the court’s decision to district) that its illegal online sports games “remain fully open to all players” and “there is no cause for concern,” “the plaintiffs’ attorneys wrote in their 29-page response.

As part of the pact, the tribe agreed to pay the state at least $ 2.5 billion over the first five years in return for control of sports betting in the state and permission to add the roulette and craps in its casino operations.

To get around a state law that prohibits any expansion of the game without voter approval unless it is licensed as a tribal game, the governor and the tribe agreed to give the tribe a monopoly on betting. online sports in Florida by passing all bets through the tribe’s computer servers. . But the court said the provision violated India’s federal gambling law.

Second refusal of residence request

This is the second time that a court has rejected the attempt by the Seminol tribe to stay Friedrich’s decision. Two days after their initial decision, the tribe asked Friedrich to stay their own decision while they pursued an appeal. She rejected it, issuing a four-point rebuttal that the tribe had no guarantee of success on the merits of the case and could not demonstrate that they had been irreparably injured without suspension.

Friedrich’s order, however, is not self-executing.

In a message to plaintiff lawyers on Monday before plaintiffs file their response to the stay petition, tribal lawyer Joe Webster said “the tribal council will assess the tribe’s options after reviewing the DC circuit decision “.

Now that the appeals court has dismissed the stay, the stakes are higher, because “every bet could run the risk of operating in defiance of a decision of the federal court,” said Daniel Wallach, an expert in rights law. games at Hallandale Beach.

Wallach said Friedrich was clear in his decision, saying continued sports betting operations would violate federal law. If the tribe continues its sports betting and evades the decision, there are two potential options for the plaintiffs, he said.

He said West Flagler Associates could ask Friedrich to ask the court to order the US Department of the Interior to force the Seminole tribe to halt their online sports betting operations until a court decides otherwise. or that she could take new legal action against the tribe and all the others. its commercial suppliers for “aiding and abetting an illegal sports betting operation”.

“If you direct one of the sellers, then the bookmaker cannot work,” he said.

Wallach said the court’s options included imposing penalties, monetary penalties, garnishing bank accounts and imposing limits on sellers.

“I suspect they are going to stop their sports betting,” he said. “I wouldn’t bet on it, but mocking a district court ruling is not a sane or smart way to approach a federal court. It would be in their best interests to go out of business now. “

He said that with a second rejection of their stay request, “they still had a mouthful of apple, and it will now be months before a potential appeal decision can change the status quo.” Time is up.”


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