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Florida sports gambling battle could be headed to the Supreme Court

Two casino operators are asking the Supreme Court to hear their challenge to a deal giving Florida's Seminole tribe control over sports betting.

MIAMI — Two Florida casino owners are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case that could potentially lead to a decisive ruling on legal sports gambling in the state.

According to reporting from the Orlando Sentinel, the owners of the Magic City Casino and the Bonita Springs Poker Room have claimed that a multibillion-dollar gambling agreement giving the Seminole Tribe full control over sports betting in Florida violates federal law, specifically the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which regulates gambling on tribal lands.

The agreement was signed in 2021 by Gov. Ron DeSantis and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. and approved by the Florida legislature.

The agreement effectively legalized sports betting in Florida through the Seminole Hard Rock hotel and casino locations in Hollywood and Tampa as well as through Hard Rock's mobile app. However, this only lasted for just over a month.

A lawsuit filed by casino operator West Flagler Associates claimed the deal violated federal law and would have a “significant and potentially devastating impact” on their operations, leading to a DC judge striking down the agreement.

Then, on June 30, 2023, an appeals court panel reversed the ruling. Last week, the court refused a request to rehear the case, leading the plaintiffs to file a brief to the Supreme Court arguing that the appeals court's decision "enables an extreme shift in public policy on legalized gaming that, once started, may be difficult to stop.”

Thirty-four states and Washington D.C. have fully legalized sports betting. It’s estimated Florida could collect upwards of $125 million dollars in tax revenue from the industry.

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