Seminoles expand casino, sports-betting options as litigation continues
The Seminole Tribe of Florida has added craps and roulette to its existing menu of casino games while expanding access to a new online sports book that allow placement of bets from anywhere within Florida via computer or cellphone.
The tribe already offered blackjack, baccarat, other casino card games, and slot machines, at six Seminole Casinos in the state. The new games will be available at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, and Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood, the tribe said Friday.
The news comes as the sporting world prepares for college football bowl season and the NBA playoffs. The tribe began rolling out access to its sports betting operation on Nov. 7, although legal challenges to them remain pending. You can also lay a bet at one of the Seminoles’ six casinos in Florida.
The News Service of Florida has reported that the tribe will pay the state at least $650 million over the next year as its share of gambling proceeds under the Seminole Gaming Compact that the Legislature approved in 2021 and Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law. The state’s take over five years could hit $2.5 billion.
There remain two legal challenges to the sports book filed by competitors West Flagler Associates Ltd. and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp., one before the Florida Supreme Court and another before the U.S. Supreme Court. Neither of those courts has accepted the companies’ request to block the sports book, but appeals on the merits of the tribe’s deal with the state remain pending.
‘Hub and spoke’
Both cases challenge the “hub and spoke” arrangement for betting on sports outcomes, wherein bets placed from anywhere in the state are deemed to have transpired through computer servers located on tribal land. At issue is whether the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, or IGRA, which regulates tribal gambling, and Florida’s Amendment 3, approved by the voters in 2018, which requires a public referendum to expand casino gambling in the state, allow the arrangement.
The tribe and DeSantis administration have argued that sports betting isn’t subject to Amendment 3 because its not a traditional casino game as defined in the amendment and because the amendment exempted Indian gambling. Also that federal law has long allowed arrangements similar to hub-and-spoke.
The U.S. Supreme Court has given the competitors until Feb. 8 to file formal arguments asking the justices to take up their appeal on its merits.
The competitors noted that Justice Brett Kavanaugh expressed qualms about hub-and-spoke even while voting not to disturb a U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruling allowing the sports betting.
“To the extent that a separate Florida statute (as distinct from the compact) authorizes the Seminole Tribe — and only the Seminole Tribe — to conduct certain off-reservation gaming operations in Florida, the state law raises serious equal protection issues,” he wrote.