UPDATE: Seminole Gambling Compact Officially Approved by Federal Government

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to ratify the Seminole Gambling Compact with Florida.  Most provisions were along similar lines as past compacts, but the sudden inclusion of online sports gambling to be regulated by the Seminole’s created an immediate controversy.  The compact is attempting to legalize mobile sports gambling which is illegal in Florida and must be voted on by the people to become legal.  The state of course claims the gambling servers for sports betting on Tribal land, so it’s irrelevant if the gamblers are off site and located in Florida which is illegal.  The Government had 45 days to approve, deny, or not take action, which defaults to allowing the compact.  The 45 days has passed, thus the compact has officially been approved.  An online source reports;  

On Friday, the top-ranking official in the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantis and Tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola that the compact those leaders signed on April 23 is “considered to have been approved” without action by the BIA, which declined to affirmatively approve it during a 45-day review period but also did not reject it.

Bryan Newland, head of the BIA, wrote: “After thorough review under IGRA, we have taken no action to approve or disapprove the Compact before August 5, 2021, the 45th day. As a result, the Compact is considered to have been approved by operation of law to the extent that it complies with IGRA and existing Federal law. The Compact will become effective upon the publication of notice in the Federal Register.”

The most controversial component of the compact legalizes mobile sports betting — individuals placing digital bets on sporting events via mobile devices, but not engaging with other players in internet-based games referred to as online gambling — everywhere in the state, but it deems those bets to have been made on tribal land where the file servers will process them. The arrangement is called “hub and spoke,” with servers on tribal land being the hub and devices across the state being the spokes.

This news is disappointing to many, including NO Casino’s, the watchdog organization that was instrumental in getting the Florida Amendment passed that requires a vote of the people to expand gambling.  Now that its official, they plan to put forth litigation to correct the over ruling.  The online source continues:

[T]he sports betting provision will face legal challenges arguing that the hub-and-spoke arrangement is a fiction designed to usurp Florida’s ban on expanding gambling without prior voter approval.John Sowinski, president of No Casinos, vowed to fight the compact in federal and state courts, chiefly to defend Florida Constitutional Amendment 3 passed by voters in 2018 to outlaw expansions of gambling without prior voter approval.

“We are deeply disappointed that the Department of Interior took no action on the compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” Sowinski wrote in a statement Friday to the Phoenix. “While this inaction means that it is deemed approved by the Department of Interior, it does not change the fact that this compact violates multiple federal laws as well as the Florida Constitution.

“The 2018 constitutional mandate of 72 percent of Florida voters could not be clearer,” Sowinski continued. “Only Florida voters, not politicians in Tallahassee or Washington, have the power to expand gambling in Florida. This issue will have its day in both state and federal courts, where we are confident that this compact will be overturned. We are committed to ensuring that the people of Florida will always have the final say on gambling as required by Florida’s Amendment 3.”

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