Legalized Florida sports betting was dealt yet another set back as the West Flagler and Associates ongoing case against the Department of the Interior and the Seminole Tribe rumbles on.

West Flagler had until late yesterday to file for a rehearing in the case, which was the end of the 45-day window granted for lodging an en banc petition.

Should West Flagler not have applied for an en banc rehearing, the Seminole Tribe would have been able to relaunch its sportsbook operations on Monday, August 21st when the official mandate restoring the Florida gaming compact would have gone into effect. It also would have allowed the Seminole Tribe to resume offering craps and roulette in its Florida casinos.

What’s the FL sports betting history?

On June 30, 2023, the DC Circuit Court reversed the decision by the DC District Court regarding the Seminole Tribe’s gaming compact with the state. The decision initially vacated the 2021 ruling that the compact violated the terms of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Impact. The initial ruling argued that it regulated gambling off tribal lands, and was outside the scope of what tribal gaming compacts encompass. The Seminole’s argument was that because the servers that processed online sports bets were on tribal land, the bets were taken on tribal land.

The three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia unanimously agreed to overturn the ruling.

West Flagler’s request addresses the Circuit Court’s opinion that the compact did not violate the IGRA: “The Opinion departs from this prior case law by holding that a tribe and state may use the IGRA process to obtain Secretarial approval of a compact purportedly authorizing a tribe to conduct gaming statewide, i.e., predominantly off of Indian lands. It says the Secretary may provide such approval even where—as here—the law of the state prohibits the type of gambling in question if conducted off of Indian lands”.

The counsel also adds: “The Opinion is erroneous and will create confusion, and thus rehearing is warranted. The Opinion relies on an interpretation of an IGRA provision itemizing the ancillary subject matters that are permissible in an IGRA compact. As shown by both the plain text of this provision and the overall legislative purpose of IGRA, this provision cannot reasonably be read to allow IGRA compacts to contain provisions that on their face seek to authorize gaming activities off of Indian lands.”

What happens in Florida now?

It has been over two years since the DC Circuit has granted an en banc hearing, but should it go ahead it will be heard by all active judges rather than just a three judge strong panel.

If the petition is denied, the option to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court remains. The Seminole and Florida sports bettors will be hoping the request is simply denied and there’s no appeal, as sports betting will likely be up and running by the beginning of the 2023/2024 NFL season.

The Seminole has wasted no time, either, with several job postings for Craps and Roulette dealers across its casino properties in Florida.