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US Supreme Court rejects plea to hear Florida online sports betting case

The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the Florida online sports betting case Monday, one of the last remaining legal hurdles challenging the Seminole Tribe's monopoly on online gambling in the state.    (Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun Sentinel)
By Shira Moolten South Florida Sun Sentinel

The U.S. Supreme Court decided not to hear the Florida online sports betting case Monday, one of the last remaining legal hurdles challenging the Seminole Tribe’s monopoly on online gambling in the state.

The rejection was announced after the justices discussed the case during a private conference Thursday. It was the most likely result, as the Supreme Court rejects over 95% of cases put before it. Still, some experts believed that the court might have taken interest due to the ongoing controversy surrounding the legality of online sports betting and its national implications.

The rejection of the case now paves the way for sports betting to continue unchallenged in Florida for the next several years.

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida applauds today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to decline consideration of the case involving the Tribe’s Gaming Compact with the State of Florida,” Gary Bitner, a spokesperson for the Tribe, said Monday. “It means members of the Seminole Tribe and all Floridians can count on a bright future made possible by the Compact.”

The court wrote that Justice Brett Kavanaugh would have granted the petition for certiorari filed by West Flagler Associates, the group of pari-mutuels that has long sought to bring online sports betting to a halt. Kavanaugh had previously made comments suggesting he saw merit in the case, particularly the idea that West Flagler and other gambling companies may have been treated unfairly because of the monopoly the state granted to the Tribe.

The Seminole Tribe achieved its monopoly on online sports betting in Florida under a gaming deal, called a compact, with Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2021 that hinged on the idea that all online sports betting takes place on tribal lands because the servers are located there, and therefore is not a violation of a federal law which relegates gambling to tribal lands.

West Flagler’s attorneys had previously sued the Department of the Interior, arguing before a D.C. district court that the department should not have authorized online sports betting because it does not take place on tribal lands, violating a federal statute known as the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. But an appeals court overturned the ruling last September, ushering in the widespread launch of online sports betting in December.

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has opted not to consider or reverse that decision. Tribes in other states may soon model Florida’s agreement, seeing that it has survived challenges under federal law.

The decision “will have repercussions across the country,” Steve Bittenbender, an analyst for, said in a statement, by opening a door for states including New Mexico, Washington and Wisconsin “to expand upon those agreements and let the recognized tribal gaming nations in those states operate online sports betting across the state. This, too, could open the door for iGaming, or online casinos, in a number of states.”

The decision may also “accelerate” online sports betting in California, according to Daniel Wallach, a Hallandale Beach-based sports betting attorney.

Other experts agree that the success of the argument that online gambling occurs on Indian lands also opens a door for the Seminole Tribe to launch online gambling in general.

Wallach predicted on X that Florida will legalize iGaming for just the Seminole Tribe by 2026. Wallach had filed an amicus curae brief asking the Supreme Court to take up the case or reverse it.

It’s still possible the Tribe could face other challenges both within Florida and nationally, though none that would stop online betting any time soon. West Flagler may decide to sue again over the issue of equal protection rather than the issue of where the betting takes place. Meanwhile, the Florida Supreme Court decided not to hear the case earlier this year, but could again, should West Flagler decide to take the case all the way up, beginning in Leon County Circuit Court.