Florida Lawmakers Aim to Legalize Sports Betting – 2021

In the past, sports betting has been outlawed in Florida. Sports fans and gamblers alike were unable to bet money on their favorite sports. Once a pipe dream, Florida residents may soon enjoy the ability to bet on sports at casinos and on their smart phones. In March 2021, Florida lawmakers began the process of joining the two-dozen states where sports betting is legal.

Earlier this year, Governor Ron DeSantis allied with the Seminole tribe to push a new gambling deal that would allow the tribe, to facilitate sports betting in Florida. Shortly after, state lawmakers approved a deal between the state of Florida and the tribe approving a range of gambling activity, including sports betting.

The deal went further, permitting all Florida residents to gamble on their phone, even if they were not present on tribal land. Without this statewide stipulation, Florida residents may have been gambling on sports in Seminole tribal casinos months ago. In July, owners of the Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, known as the pari-mutuels, filed suit to block the deal. Pari-mutuels claim in their lawsuit that allowing sports betting off tribal land is a violation of federal gambling law.

Allied together, the Seminole tribe and Governor DeSantis have responded to the suit with a series of arguments. They claim, among other things, that pari-mutuel has failed to show that they were injured as a result of the deal. The general rule is that to overcome standing requirements, a plaintiff must show a particularized injury which affected them in a real way. The courts do not deal with mere hypotheticals. This legal rule represents the crux of the court’s decision-making process, with each party argument’s painting different theories of damage.

On one hand, Governor DeSantis and the Seminole tribe argue that the plaintiff would actually see significant monetary benefit as a result of the deal’s passing. The team of attorneys assert that the plaintiffs would have marketing rights for Seminole tribe’s online gambling business, meaning they would earn the majority of profits relating to the online services.

Despite the U.S. Department of the Interior signing off on the Seminole tribe online sports gambling deal in August, Florida residents will have to wait for the federal court’s approval before they are able to sports gamble on their smartphones.

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