TAMPA, Fla — A federal judge says all bets are off when it comes to Florida‘s recent gaming compact with the Seminole Indian Tribe.
In her ruling, Judge Dabney Friedrich found the compact violates federal and state law.
So, what does that mean for the future of sports betting in Florida? And what about the thousands of people who already placed bets using the new sports book app?
“Sports betting and all gaming encompassed under the compact is invalidated,” said Daniel Wallach, an attorney who specializes in sports betting law.
Wallach says Judge Friedrich found the compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Indian Tribe violated years of legal precedent when it comes to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, or IGRA, which states wagers must be placed on Seminole Tribe land — not just processed there.
“The only type of gambling that is allowed to occur is what takes place exclusively on Indian land and nowhere else,” said Wallach. “There are no ifs ands or buts about it.”
Wallach says the legal fallout is this means, for now, no more off-site sports betting.
That includes the popular Hard Rock app which people started using a few weeks ago.
“I know people that have put thousands of dollars into the system,” said Albert Perry, who said he dabbles in online sports wagering.
The decision has Perry wondering what happens next.
“Will I be able to get all of my money back from the bets that were already placed?” he asked.
“There’s no good legal reason or business reason for them to hold onto customer monies,” said Wallach. “But we’ll see.”
Because the entire compact was struck down, Wallach says don’t look for expanded table games like craps or roulette any time soon either.
State lawmakers, he says, have to start over, perhaps crafting a new deal to allow on-site sports wagering and then leaving it to Florida voters to decide if they want to expand that to online betting.
“The power resides in the people to pass a ballot measure to bring online sports betting to the state,” said Wallach. “Potentially as early as early as January 2023.”
The federal ruling is also considered a big win for gambling competitors Magic City Casino and the Bonita Springs Poker Room. The two challenged the deal after it had been approved by the state legislature.
Other digital wagering platforms like DraftKings and FanDuel have invested millions in a political action committee aimed at legalizing sports betting at casinos, sports venues, and parimutuel sites statewide.
Wallach also wonders if some might try to get refunds on bets that they lost, arguing the Seminole Tribe was premature in accepting those wagers until they knew it was legal to do so.
Odds are the federal court’s decision will be appealed, said Wallach, but whether they will succeed? Wallach says don’t bet on it.