Florida Sport Betting Decision Could Be Template For Other States: Report

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Florida Sport Betting Decision Could Be Template For Other States: Report
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A U.S. Supreme Court decision this week giving the Seminole Tribe of Florida exclusive rights to handle sports betting in that state through 2051 could impact sports wagering in places like California, according to analysts.

In a “major win” for the tribe in Florida, the court on June 17 declined to upend a 30-year state compact giving the tribe’s Hard Rock brand a lock on sports betting statewide, the News Service of Florida reported.

That agreement had been challenged by two Florida pari-mutual companies in a federal lawsuit. The lawsuit contends the compact violates the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by allowing gambling off tribal lands, according to the news service.

The tribe has asserted that gamblers using their mobile sports-betting app, available for use anywhere in Florida, are not wagering off tribal land, since that’s where the computer servers are located to power the mobile app.

Though state challenges are still possible, this mid-June Supreme Court decisions locks in the tribe as the sole sports betting operator, muscling out potential commercial mobile sportsbooks such as FanDuel and DraftKings, according to published accounts.

Currently, sports betting is legal in 38 states and Washington, D.C.

Other States Could Follow Florida

One state where sports betting remains illegal is California, the nation’s most populated state. In California, voters in 2022 defeated ballot initiatives by the tribes and commercial sportsooks to legalize sports wagering.

During the ballot fight, tribal leaders expressed disappointment by what they regarded as attacks from a commercial sports betting alliance.

Victor Rocha, editor of Pechanga.net, said during a 2022 gaming conference in Las Vegas that commercial bookmakers “don’t get it” if they think they can come back to California in a couple of years and win approval for sports wagering. Industry observers now say it could be years before sports betting in legal in California.

However, according to the Compliance+More Substack, tribes in California and other states might be able to use the Florida template in amending their current compacts to permit sports betting without having to endure a costly ballot initiative.

Among states that could attempt to opt out of their current compacts, in addition to California, are Oklahoma, Minnesota, Washington and New Mexico, according to Compliance+More, citing a Deutsche Bank report.

That doesn’t mean the door is open for commercial bookmakers, Deutsche Bank indicated.

“Much like Florida, however, should the tribes successfully amend the compact, the opportunity for the traditional online operators would remain cloudy,” Deutsche Bank said.

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