Category Archives: Tribal Gambling

Florida appeals Seminole Compact Ruling – No Casinos Joins Fight against Unconstitutional Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to expand gambling through online sports gambling efforts in Florida.  Their constitution required a vote of the people to expand gambling, but a deal negotiated between the Florida government and Seminole Tribe added sports gambling to the compact and allowed for online gambling as well.  They claimed as long as the online servers were on tribal land, anyone could use the online app, thus creating legalized online sports gambling for the entire state.  A federal judge rejected the compact and called the notion “fiction.”  The appeal has been filed and No Casinos has joined the legal fight to help keep the issue suppressedAn online source reports:

No Casinos and a group of south Florida businessmen have joined the legal fight to defend a district court ruling striking down the 30-year gambling compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the State of Florida. The Seminole Tribe is appealing the ruling and seeks an immediate stay, which would allow it to legally continue the first-in-Florida sports betting operations it launched on Nov. 1. The compact also authorized the tribe to build new casinos on its property and to offer games such as craps and roulette that were previously illegal in Florida.

John Sowsinki, president of No Casinos, told the Phoenix in a statement provided Tuesday that the tribe should immediately stop its sports-betting operations, which he considers “illegal gambling.” He noted the tribe chose to launch Florida’s first-ever statewide sports betting operation on Nov. 1 despite ongoing litigation and has not halted it despite Judge Friedrich’s order.

Further, No Casinos, Codina, Carr and Braman want sports betting and other gambling expansions authorized in the gambling compact to be shut down permanently – except as may be authorized in the future by Florida voters, as required by the 2018 constitutional amendment titled “Voter Control of Gambling,” then known as Amendment 3.

Their amici brief, filed late Tuesday, urges the appellate court to affirm the district court’s order striking down the compact and to deny the tribe’s request for a stay in the interim.

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UPDATE: Federal Judge Rules Against Florida Seminole Sports Gambling Provision, Calling the State’s Argument ‘Fiction’

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to legalize sports betting in Florida via the Seminole Gambling Compact.  The problem has been the plan calls for online sports betting and claims that anyone in the state can use their app and gamble on sports even though sports gambling is very much not legalized in the state.  Their argument has been that as long as the servers are on tribal land, then the gambler doesn’t have to be at the casino.  A Federal Judge has reviewed the case and despite what some thought would be a simple political push through, has approved the injunction and shut the deal down.  The Miami Herald reports:

In a stunning rejection of Florida’s attempt to give the Seminole Tribe a monopoly on sports betting, a federal district court judge in the District of Columbia ruled late Monday that the compact violates federal Indian gaming law and invalidated the entire agreement, halting all sports betting and gaming expansion in Florida indefinitely.

The ruling by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich puts a halt on the sports betting quietly launched by the Seminole Tribe on Nov. 1 and, in a double hit, it also blocks the tribe’s Hard Rock casinos in Broward and Hillsborough counties from becoming full Las Vegas-style casinos.

“Although the Compact ‘deem[s]’ all sports betting to occur at the location of the Tribe’s ‘sports book[s]‘ and supporting servers … this Court cannot accept that fiction,’’ Friedrich wrote. “When a federal statute authorizes an activity only at specific locations, parties may not evade that limitation by ‘deeming’ their activity to occur where it, as a factual matter, does not.”

Judge Friedrich ordered Florida to revert back to the prior compact and outlined the path for sports betting to either be on Tribal land or statewide through a vote of the people.  Many believed politics would prevent such an obvious and clear understanding of federal gambling law, but this decision is a positive first step.  The state is likely to appeal, but its a major victory for those fighting against such gambling expansion.  The Miami Herald continues:

The decision is a victory for the owners of Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room and a group of plaintiffs that includes No Casinos and Miami businessmen Armando Codina and Norman Braman. They each filed separate lawsuits against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland alleging that the federal government improperly approved the gaming compact.

Codina and Braman have fought to block gaming expansion for decades and helped finance the successful 2018 constitutional amendment that requires that any expansion of gambling be approved by voters in a statewide referendum.

“I think this is a big victory. I couldn’t ask for more,’’ said Codina, a real estate developer and devoted gambling opponent. He said he will continue to fight if the state and tribe file an appeal.

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$32 Million and Counting has been Dropped in Florida to Legalize Sports Betting via Initiative Petitions, but will they Succeed?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to legalize sports betting in Florida.  The Seminole Nation and state of Florida reached a new gambling compact that provides exclusive rights to sports betting in exchange for annual cash payments to the state.  That compact has been hotly contested and seemingly violates federal and states laws for allowing sports betting online and not solely at Seminole casinos.  But even if those legal hurdles are worked out, that still leaves companies like Draft Kings and FanDuel from getting a piece of the sports betting pie.  Enter the initiative petition. If enough signatures can be gathered, the issue would go to the voters.  If the voters pass the petition, sports betting could be legalized all over the state.  So how much money has been spent on these petitions and are they getting the signatures they need?  Florida Politics breaks it down:

Two gambling drives each have spent $16 million; neither has more than 110K verified signatures. Gambling interests’ efforts to get Florida voters to consider expanding casino gambling and sports betting are raising the stakes — pouring another $22 million into their campaigns in October.

The cash infusion fuels frenetic petition drives by Florida Education Champions, a committee backed by the fantasy sports giants DraftKings and FanDuel seeking to expand sports betting in Florida; and by Florida Voters In Charge, a committee backed by Las Vegas Sands Corp. seeking to create opportunities for casinos in North Florida. Between them they’ve spent more than $32 million over four months.

For DraftKings, FanDuel, and Las Vegas Sands, the clock is ticking, fast, on their petition drives. The two petition drives each need 891,589 verified voters’ signatures by January. Neither is close, according to the latest updates posted by the Florida Secretary of State.

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The Newest Attempt at a Casino in the Missouri Ozarks Appears to be Tribal Gambling, but Hurdles Loom

Casino Watch Focus has reported on efforts to legalize a new casino at Osage Beach at the Lake of the Ozarks.  The biggest problem has been that casino gambling, or river boat gambling as it were, is constitutionally restricted to the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and there is a cap on the total number at thirteen.  So even if a casino license were to become available, neither river flows near Osage Beach.  The newest plan would seek to get around those rules by establishing a Tribal Casino.  Tribes are allowed to offer the same equivalent gambling on their reservations that are allowed in the state, but there are a few major hurdles that would have to be overcome, including the actual establishment of a tribal reservation in Missouri.  The Missouri Times explains:

The Osage Nation is planning to roll the dice on a new casino at the Lake of the Ozarks, potentially opening up a new revenue stream at the popular tourism spot — though a successful outcome is far from guaranteed.   

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), passed by Congress in 1988, outlined the process for approving a tribal casino off of a reservation.

Purchased land would be handled by the U.S. Department of the Interior, and the Osage Nation would then negotiate the responsibilities for providing law enforcement and taxation with the state government — all of which could take several years. If any party were to oppose the terms along the way, the project would be dashed.

A major hurdle for the project could be a clause in the IGRA that requires a tribe to have a reservation in the state to receive approval: Once a prominent tribe in Missouri, the nearest Osage reservation is now in Oklahoma, Leara said. 

So just what kind of support or more importantly, opposition would such a plan face?  Well, given how long it would take to even establish that the Osage Nation has the jurisdiction to build such a gambling facility, the political landscape could be vastly different.  The Missouri Times concludes:

Ultimately, Leara said he would place his bets on the project taking up to a decade to come to fruition — if it manages to get off the ground at all.

“I think when this becomes more than a press release and something a little more concrete, we’ll start to see opposition,” Leara told The Missouri Times. “We don’t know where the governor is on this — we’ll likely have a different governor before this goes anywhere anyway. There are a lot of questions and while they did get a lot of attention from their press release, I don’t think it’s anything in the near future.”

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UPDATE: One of the Three Lawsuits filed Against the Florida/Seminole Compact regarding Online Sports Betting Dismissed after President Biden’s Administration Intervenes 

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent lawsuits filed against the Florida Seminole Online Sports betting plan. As the Sun Sentinel reported, the Biden Administration made known that they wanted the federal case dismissed that was filed by two parimutuel companies, claiming they didn’t have standing to sue and couldn’t prove irreparable harm.  It appears the move by the Biden Administration paid off as the Sun Sentinel is now reporting that the judge has dismissed that particular case:  

Dealing a win to Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe, a federal judge on Monday dismissed a lawsuit challenging a gambling agreement that allows the tribe to have control over sports betting in Florida.

Attorneys for DeSantis and state Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Julie Brown asked U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing the pari-mutuels did not have legal standing to challenge the compact because they had not shown they will be harmed.  In a 20-page ruling Monday, Winsor, who wryly noted that the pari-mutuels “are not pleased with the compact,” agreed with the state’s arguments.

The compact allowed the tribe to offer online sports betting beginning Friday, but the Seminoles haven’t launched the operation. The legal challenge tossed by Winsor on Monday was one of three federal lawsuits challenging the compact. The Havenick family has owned the pari-mutuel facilities in the Florida case for more than five decades. It also filed a lawsuit in Washington, D.C., naming the U.S. Department of the Interior and Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as defendants.Two prominent South Florida businessmen and the anti-gambling organization No Casinos have filed a separate lawsuit in Washington, D.C.

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Sports Betting Can Begin Oct 15th in Florida, but Experts Say its Unlikely

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the Florida Seminole Compact that has offered exclusive sports betting by the Tribe.  Exclusivity for payment to the state of Florida is not new, however, sports betting certainly is and many believe its illegal.  Several lawsuits have been filed on different levels, but the general issue is that because the sports betting is online, and not just on a tribal casino, its new gambling that has to be voted on by the people in Florida, as anyone in the state could access sports gambling without needing to be on tribal land.  The Compact establishes an October 15th start date, but experts don’t believe a formal launch will happen for a month, if at all.  The Orlando Sentinel reports:

Florida sports fans looking to place their first legal bets on games this weekend will have to wait a little longer. And if opponents who have filed three lawsuits eventually win in court, such bets could be off the table. Wagers on sporting events are legal on Seminole Tribe lands starting Friday, and the Tribe has plans to offer an app to allow residents to place bets that flow through a server on their land. But those plans won’t be in place for at least another month and perhaps longer.

The Tribe received a monopoly on sports betting through its new compact with the state, which was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis in April and passed by the Legislature in a May special session.

It received federal regulatory approval in August, but three lawsuits are challenging the agreement, which argue it violates federal and state law and shouldn’t take effect.

No Casinos, an Orlando-based group and two South Florida businessmen, car dealer Norman Braman and developer Armando Codina filed suit in the Washington, D.C., District Court last month. Among the arguments, the lawsuit claims the compact violates a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 2018 requiring new expansions of casino gambling to be approved by voters.

“They can’t do that without a vote of the people,” No Casinos president John Sowinski said. Sowinski is confident his group will win in court and said the Tribe could lose out if it makes investments to take advantage of sports betting that he believes will be deemed illegal by the courts.“The Tribe probably realize that they proceed at their own risk in terms of venture capital and whatever is expended  he courts make a determination on this,” Sowinski said.

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Guest Article:  Editorial: Florida gaming deal goes to court. One verdict is in: Lawmakers’ contempt for voters

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing sports betting saga taking place in Florida and today’s guest article on this matter is an editorial by Florida’s Finger Lake Times:  

Two Miami business leaders went to court this week in Washington, D.C., in an effort to stop the expansion of gambling in Florida — and to stand up for voters, since the Legislature and governor are doing just the opposite.

Developer Armando Codina and auto retailer Norman Braman, two of the state’s fiercest and most well-heeled gambling opponents, filed suit — along with the group No Casinos — against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. The suit accuses the federal government of allowing the state to circumvent the Florida Constitution when it approved a new gaming deal this year — including off-reservation sports betting — with the Seminole Tribe. The suit also contends that Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature violated federal laws by authorizing gambling outside of Indian lands, among other claims.

We believe there’s little doubt that lawmakers and gambling interests crafted the deal precisely to get around the 2018 constitutional amendment that voters approved — by an unheard-of 72% — that specified the electorate must determine if there are more casinos in Florida…

Unless the courts stop this deal, more casino gambling will be allowed at existing facilities. The Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock casinos in Broward and Hillsborough counties would be able to morph into full Las Vegas-style casinos with the addition of roulette and craps. No Casinos calls this the biggest gambling expansion in Florida history.

Yet, that’s not all. Even more alarming is the part of the deal where the Seminole Tribe says it won’t object to any new casino license as long as it’s at least 18 miles from its Hard Rock Casino near Hollywood.

Guess what? Both the Fontainebleau hotel and resort in Miami Beach and Trump’s National Doral Miami golf resort — both have indicated they would like to see a new law that would let them transfer a gambling license from an existing parimutuel to their properties — fall conveniently outside that magic 18-mile boundary line.

As Codina told the Herald, “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how this movie is ending.”

Agreed.

The full article can be read HERE

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New Lawsuit filed to block Florida’s Oct 15th Sports Betting Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent sports betting legalization in Florida by means of its new Seminole Gambling Compact, and on the subsequent opposition.  A pair of Florida parimutuel companies have been leading the legal charge against Florida and the Seminole Gambling compact they entered into with the Tribe.  The issue, of course, stems from the inappropriate sports gambling expansion that will take place off reservation, gambling that requires the express consent of the Florida voters before it can be enacted.  The argument has been if the location of the online servers being on tribal land is enough to call it tribal gambling, or if the fact that anyone in the state having access to this gambling subjects it to constitutional voter approval.  Florida has moved forward with its plans to initiate and regulate sports gambling and have set Oct 15th as the date.  A new lawsuit by the same companies essentially seeks an injunction to hold off such gambling until the lawsuits can be heard.  The Miami-Herald explains:

Two Florida pari-mutuels filed a new motion in federal district court in Washington late Tuesday, asking a judge to block implementation of online sports betting under the Florida tribal gaming compact which is scheduled to begin later this year.

The motion, filed by Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, asks a court to enjoin the sports-betting portion of the state’s compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The plaintiffs allege that although the Department of the Interior allowed the compact to take effect, the court should reverse that decision and block implementation until a legal sports-betting compact is established for Florida.

Although the Florida statute sets an Oct. 15 start date for tribal sports betting, a footnote in the lawsuit states that “representatives of the Tribe have informed Plaintiffs that the Tribe will not implement online sports betting until November 15, 2021.”

The court has scheduled a Nov. 5 hearing date to hear oral arguments on the Magic City motion for summary judgment with the goal of blocking the launch of online sports betting in Florida.

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Could the Florida Seminole Gambling Compact Sports Betting Case lead to a Massive Expansion of Gambling Around the Country?

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing events surrounding the legalization of sports betting in Florida via the new gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe.  The implications of the new BIA ruling allowing online gambling to gamblers who simply link to servers located on tribal land, without regard to the gamblers physical location, could be profound.  The government claims their view is simply an updated view of how online gambling should work, but clearly its a method of usurping the Florida Constitution that expressly forbids expanded gambling without the vote of the people.  What kind of precedent will this set for other states?  An online source breaks down the Nationwide implications:

The Seminole deal seeks to be the nation’s first compact that permits off-tribal land gaming under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the sweeping legislation that regulates tribal gaming nationwide. The compact language also would permit certain aspects, such as the brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, to stand even if online components are denied.

If online sports betting is approved, Florida would eclipse Pennsylvania as the nation’s most-populated legal digital wagering state. With California and Texas unlikely to approve mobile sports betting until 2025 or later, it’s a title the Sunshine State should hold for years to come. Along with more than 21-million residents, Florida averages more than 100 million tourism visits annually. Mobile wagering from Pensacola to Key West could create a market that reverberates beyond just the state itself.

Mobile sports betting authorization for the Seminoles could mean hundreds of other tribes could pursue digital gaming options of their own. Legal battles would surely follow, but an internet-friendly definition of wagering “on tribal lands” could mean every state with a recognized tribe has at least an argument for digital sportsbooks, lottery and casinos.

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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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Guest Editorial: Gaming companies placed a $62 million bet against Florida voters. Don’t let them win

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various attempts to expand gambling in Florida.  After a successful Amendment to the Florida Constitution, new gambling in the state must be approved by the voters.  So far, 4 different initiative potions dealing with gambling have been successfully funded to find their way on the ballot.  The Miami Herald Editorial Board has come out strongly in opposition and is warning Florida voters to avoid being deceived by all these gambling expansion measures.  Read below and for the full article, click HERE:

Consider yourself warned, Florida. The door has been flung wide open for more gambling and everyone is scrambling to get a piece of the action. How else to explain this astonishing piece of news: Gambling interests pumped a whopping $62 million in political contributions last month into groups and efforts that could influence the future of sports betting and casino gambling via ballot initiatives in 2022, according to a Miami Herald story.

With that kind of money on the table, the potential market in Florida must be huge. No doubt much of this interest springs from the Legislature’s easy approval this year of a $500 million gambling deal negotiated between the Gov. Ron Desantis and the Seminole Tribe.

Out-of-state, sports-gaming companiesFanDuel and DraftKings are each in for a cool $10 million, money they put into a political committee pushing to expand online sports betting across the state. They were iced out of the Seminole deal.

The Las Vegas Sands, a powerful new player, dropped $17 million into a political committee linked to two ballot issues for more casinos. Sources told the Herald that the company is interested in purchasing existing parimutuel licenses to open casinos in Jacksonville and other northern Florida spots.

Miami’s Magic City Casino anted up $15 million for its own political committee, official purpose unspecified. And the Seminole Tribe, winner of the last round of Gambling Gone Wild in this state, put $10 million into yet another political committee, mostly likely to defend its crown…

The timing of this slew of cash isn’t a coincidence. A new law was supposed to go into effect July 1 to limit contributions for signature-gathering — a requirement to get a proposed amendment on the ballot — to a paltry $3,000 per organization. But a lawsuit was filed, and a federal judge temporarily blocked the law just as it was about to go into effect…

It’s not completely clear yet which organization wants what next year. But the Miami Herald sketched it out this way:

FanDuel and DraftKings are looking for their own online sports betting deal to be approved by Florida voters. The Seminole Tribe wants to be ready to defend its 30-year gaming deal, which is still awaiting approval from the federal government. The Sands organization is eyeing casinos in northern Florida. And Magic City’s stake is designed to make sure parimutuels have a place at the table.

If that sounds like the state is being carved up like a roast at Sunday dinner, well, we agree…

But more gambling is not yet a done deal in this state. Getting a constitutional amendment onto the ballot in Florida isn’t easy. And any amendment must pass with at least 60 percent of the vote. No matter how much money the gambling companies throw at Florida, voters still have the final say.

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Congressional attempts to redefine Tribal Gambling to allow Florida Gambling Compact Underway

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to pass a legal gambling compact in Florida with the Seminole Tribe, however, the new mobile sports betting provision has sparked opposition and now formal lawsuits to stop such action. Federal law allows for tribal gambling, but there are limitations and the current regulatory language and legal precedent are fairly clear that tribal gambling must be on tribal land, making online or mobile gambling outside of the legal purview if the gambling in question is not legal in the state where mobile/internet gamblers could be located.  The Florida Seminole compact is facing two current lawsuits and is under review by the Federal Government, but two Congressional lawmakers are taking action to quickly change federal tribal gambling regulation to allow the Seminole Compact to circumvent the lawsuits and the Florida constitution.  An online source reports:

Two congressmen have filed legislation that would seek to help more tribal casinos implement online gaming. US Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.) issued a statement into the Congressional Record  Thursday to introduce HR 4308 

“This bill would clarify that, for purposes of tribal government gaming, the location of the wager occurs at the location of the server, unless a state and Indian tribe otherwise agree,” Correa said in his remarks.

“Making this clarification will keep intact the current system of tribal gaming and eliminate any frivolous litigation.”

The bill announcement occurred one day before a federal lawsuit was filed in Florida. That lawsuit seeks to stop the amended tribal gaming compact that would give the Seminole Tribe exclusive statewide mobile sports betting rights in that state.

It’s unclear how successful this blatant attempt to circumvent pending litigation and the Florida constitution will be given the time frame, but this isn’t the first time online-type tribal federal legislation has been filed.  However, those attempts have all failed.  Those attempts were more broad in scope, but still couldn’t receive the support needed.  Time will tell if this avenue impacts the current course of the Seminole compact.  

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Florida’s Seminole Gambling Compact Faces Federal Approval and Many Believe Tribal Gambling Laws and the Florida Constitution make the Sports Gambling Provisions Invalid

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing developments in the approval of the newly negotiated Florida gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe.  While most agree the compact is a key and necessary part of balancing gambling expansion in Florida, many believe this compact has gone too far to expand gambling, most specifically in regards to statewide Sports gambling.  The Compact has been passed by the Florida Legislature and the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and now it goes before the Federal Government.  An online source explains:

The Department of the Interior oversees tribal-state gambling “compacts,” such as the one that Gov. Ron DeSantis and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. signed April 23 and sent to lawmakers for approval. Once the compact is submitted, the Department of the Interior has 45 days to approve the plan, reject it or allow it to go into effect without the federal agency’s action.

Federal officials will “look at the compact and see if there are any provisions in there that are problematic,” said George Skibine, whose lengthy career with the Department of the Interior included a stint as director of the Office of Indian Gaming.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act requires that covered gaming activities occur on “Indian lands,” Skibine noted. The deal with the Seminoles may turn out to be a national test case for other tribal compacts, he said.

Clearly there are past examples in other states that looked at a similar issue, and they concluded all gambling must take place on tribal land.  There are two other examples of mobile gambling involving tribal land, but both of those cases involve the tribes letting the state government handle the regulations and taxation of the gambling.  This Florida case just isn’t the same as those given that the Seminole Tribe is fully regulating sports betting and the Florida constitution currently prohibits sports betting in Florida and would require a statewide vote of the people to establish it as legal gambling.  An online source explains:

So how come Arizona and Connecticut have a clear path forward and the Seminoles do not? The key is regulatory structure.

A group of Arizona tribes and Gov. Doug Ducey announced a compact and companion legislation earlier this year that allows the tribes to open retail and online sportsbooks, among other gaming expansion options. The federal Department of the Interior has already approved the retail sportsbook components of the deal.

Critically, the compact didn’t include online betting and the tribes agreed to let Arizona government officials regulate, license and tax their online sportsbooks under a separate bill approved by the legislature.

Connecticut’s two gaming tribes and Gov. Ned Lamont announced a similar deal this year that’s now awaiting formal federal government approval. Just like Arizona’s tribes, Connecticut’s Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes agreed to separate online casino gaming and sports betting from the compact’s retail betting language.

Conversely, Florida’s compact gives the Seminoles rights to online sports betting through its own digital platform and to partner with pari-mutuel facilities for additional mobile skins. Federal law and subsequent court rulings make it seem the Seminoles don’t have authorization for online sports betting under a compact, leading many to believe federal officials will strip those provisions from the agreement.

Moreover, IGRA very clearly outlines that the gambling activity must take place on Tribal land or must be the same gambling that the state already recognizes as legal.  Some have argued that in an attempt to rush the deal, they didn’t follow current models for proper gambling compacts, and are at real risk of rejection by the Federal Government.  The source concludes:

This strict interpretation of IGRA within the language of the law and ensuing court rulings has limited gaming to physical options on tribal lands. All states that offer or have approved any form of regulated online tribal gaming, such as Arizona, Connecticut and Michigan, have done so independent of federal compacting law. Instead, these tribes maintain autonomy over in-person gaming for their brick-and-mortar gaming options and act like commercial operators for their online options.

Daniel Wallach, a Florida-based gaming attorney and sports betting legal analyst, told the Action Network the Seminoles and Florida policymakers could have followed the model established in other states. Instead, trying to shoehorn online sports betting authorization under federal law jeopardizes its very legality.

“Michigan and Arizona have acknowledged this jurisdictional limitation and crafted a solution that appears to satisfy IGRA,” Wallach said. “Florida, on the other hand, has brazenly ignored the plain and unambiguous language of IGRA, and has set up a flawed system that is on a fast track to a federal court rebuke.”

Florida’s Miami-Beach Mayor Dan Gelber was equally blunt with his rhetoric in a letter to the U.S. Department of the Interior.  The Tampa Bay times provides excerpts of his letter:

“I support the goals of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (’IGRA’), namely, to provide Native American tribes with a pathway to greater independence and economic vitality. But the Florida Compact you are considering was not crafted in pursuit of those goals,” Gelber wrote in a nine-page letter to Deb Haaland, secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

“It was simply a vehicle hijacked by non-tribal casino interests who fully corrupted the legislative and executive process in order to obtain advantages outside of tribal land and in direct contravention to the interests of Floridians.”

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Experts warn that Florida’s Seminole Gambling Compact Introduces Massive Gambling Expansion, but Leaves Problem Gamblers without Vital Resources

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to secure a new gambling compact between the Seminole Tribe and the Florida Government.  Recently a new compact was agreed upon and has been approved by the Florida Legislature and Governor.  If the bill makes it past federal approval, it represents a massive expansion in gambling.  Despite the normal political battles that such legislation brings, three is a serious health element that experts warn is being completely overlooked.  Aid for compulsive gamblers wasn’t addressed in the compact or the special legislative session that pushed the compact through.  This is of dire concern for problem gambling experts.  Florida Politics reports:

While the Legislature pushed through the Seminole Compact and gambling bills to support it, the matter of dealing with compulsive gambling drew alarm, debate, promises, but no action.

“If the Compact survives scrutiny at the federal level and the legal challenges, this is going to be a major expansion of gaming opportunities in the state of Florida, just in the sports betting alone,” said *Richard* *Pinsky*, a lobbyist for the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling. “Florida is not prepared right now for the impact that it will have upon families and individuals.”

Florida’s main response, through the Council, is a gambling prevention program helpline, 1-888-ADMIT-IT (236-4848). Set up initially to assist compulsive gamblers in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, it is woefully unprepared to handle statewide action; it was never fully funded even for its intended purpose. “I can show you the actual transcripts (of calls) that would wrench your heart,” Pinsky told a House committee last week. 

Pinsky warned that “thousands and thousands” of Floridians will fall into compulsive gambling problems. And he believes that will grow fastest among younger generations. “The younger demographic, that’s exactly who does sports wagering and fantasy sports,” Pinsky said. “College students and those under 30. And they’re also the most at-risk group.”

Florida’s gambling prevention program has not been updated since 2005 when it was initiated as a response to the legalization of slot machines in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida Legislature Approves Seminole Gambling Compact, Legalizing Mobile Sports Betting, and Many in Florida aren’t Happy

Casino Watch Focus has reported closely followed the recent advancement of the Seminole Gambling Compact and its inclusion of mobile sports betting.  The issue at stake is the legislator attempting to expand gamblining in violation of the Florida constitution, which requires a vote of the people to approve new gambling.  With the writing on the wall, many have made their positions known and now its all but official, as the Compact has passed the legislature and simply needs Gov. DeSantis’ signature, which will be forthcoming.  Not all believe it will pass, and many are speaking out.  The Orlando Sentinel’s Editorial Board outlined the opposition position:

The Florida Legislature just passed a gambling law they /know/ has a good chance of being struck down in court, or at least the sports betting part of the law that got the most attention.

You don’t have to believe us. Take it from state Rep. Randy Fine, who led the House Select Committee on Gaming and said this about sports betting after the bill passed: “Me personally, I don’t think it’s going to survive.”

The reason Fine made such an extraordinary concession on the House floor is because of the high likelihood that, under Florida’s constitution, sports betting needs to be approved by Florida’s voters, not elected legislators.

He didn’t say it, but there’s also a decent chance the bill’s legalization of craps and roulette games at Florida’s existing casinos also will be challenged in court and found unconstitutional. Same for the part that lays the groundwork for transferring gambling licenses from race tracks to other locations.

The problem in this case is that both sides seemed to ignore the clear language of the Florida Constitution, with some clearly just moving the bill along assuming that the courts would take care of the issue.  The lack of serious debate around the constitutionality of the issue has also brought the ire of those who believe the will of the constitution and the people shouldn’t be disregarded in such a cavalier manner.  The Editorial Board continues:

In 2018, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment — by a remarkable 71.5% margin — that gave voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling in the State of Florida.” That means putting the question of additional gambling in front of the voters and letting /them/ say yes or no.

The language of that amendment clearly states the referendum requirement applies to what’s known as Class III gambling, and sports betting is defined under federal law as Class III gambling. So are craps and roulette. So, these things need voter approval to become part of Florida’s gambling landscape.

That single, central issue should have been a hotly debated point of this week’s three-day special session to approve a new gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe. In an astonishing display of bipartisan disregard for the will of Florida’s voters, the House passed gambling expansion Wednesday by an overwhelming vote of 97-17 with loads of Democrats jumping on the Republican-led bandwagon. Tuesday’s Senate vote was even more lopsided: 38-1. The lone no vote came from Pinellas County Republican Jeff Brandes.

Is it any wonder the public is so cynical about politics? Were voters really not clear in 2018 about what they wanted? What the governor and Legislature have done is cooked up a deal they know is constitutionally suspect, and now the courts will have to clean up the mess they’ve made.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION