The relaunch of online sports betting Florida faces further delays after the Seminole Tribe was asked to respond to West Flagler Associates’ petition for an en banc hearing.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has not granted an en banc hearing over two years, but the request for a response could be an indication of potential interest in rehearing the case.
Daniel Wallach, a gaming and law attorney has outlined how unusual the request for a response is when deciding whether or not to hold an en banc hearing.
In most cases, the court just denies the petition for rehearing without requesting a response. The fact that they ordered a response — on their own motion, no less — adds some further intrigue. But I still expect rehearing to be denied. SCOTUS is a different story, however.
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) August 17, 2023
He tweets that the court’s own rules state that “no response may be filed to a petition for an en banc consideration unless the court orders a response”. In this case, the court has ordered a response to its own motion – whereas usually the hearing is denied without hearing a response. Wallach still believes that the Supreme Court is the more likely outcome for the case.
The Seminole Tribe has been given until 31 August, 2023 to submit a response. Should an en banc hearing not be granted, the Seminole would be able to launch Florida online sports betting when the court’s mandate goes into effect. With the NFL season beginning with Thursday Night Football on September 7, 2023, unless the response is submitted comfortably before the 31 August deadline, it looks unlikely that Floridians will be able to wager online for the start of the season.
West Flagler and Associates waited until the last minute of the 45-day window to lodge an en banc petition. This prevented the relaunch of sportsbook operations as early as August 21. It’s approaching two months since the DC Circuit Court reversed the decision regarding the Seminole Tribe’s gaming compact with the state.
The decision vacated the 2021 ruling that the gaming compact violated the terms of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Seminole’s argument is that because servers are based on tribal land, when a bet is placed it is effectively placed on tribal land. The initial ruling was that it in fact regulated gambling off tribal lands and was outside the scope of tribal gaming compacts.