Florida Sports Betting Gets Win as One Lawsuit Dismissed
A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit against Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe. The lawsuit opposed a gambling agreement that permitted the tribe to control sports wagering in the state.
No Harm, Says Judge
U.S. District Court Judge Allen Winsor ruled that West Flagler Associates did not have any standing to sue the state since it couldn’t prove the governor’s actions had harmed pari-mutuels. West Flagler Associates owns the Magic City Casino in Miami and the Bonita Springs Poker Room and claimed the new compact would hurt their business and that it violated federal law. The lawsuit was filed in July in hopes of stopping sports betting since West Flagler felt it authorized online gaming outside of tribal land and was in violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
But Winsor rejected their claims in a 20-page ruling.
“The pari-mutuels lack standing to sue the governor or the secretary because their actions are not fairly traceable to any alleged harm,” Winsor wrote. “In addition, the requested declaratory and injunctive relief would provide no legal or practical redress to the pari-mutuels’ injuries.”
Winsor supported his ruling by citing two requirements necessary to demonstrate standing in the lawsuit. He noted that under federal law, the pari-mutuels had to allege facts to showcase an “injury in fact” that is “fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant” and was “likely to be redressed by a favorable decision.”
Attorneys for DeSantis and state Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Julie Brown had asked Winsor to dismiss the lawsuit since they felt West Flagler couldn’t show evidence they would be harmed.
Winsor supported Brown, saying the pari-mutuels’ potential injuries could not be related to Brown’s actions “because the secretary’s oversight role cannot affect the tribe’s rights to offer online sports betting.” He also noted none of the secretary’s duties under the compact allowed the tribe to offer mobile sports wagering.
Winsor also ruled that ordering DeSantis to stop the compact is erroneous.
“Even assuming a declaration against the Governor would bind the State, it would not bind the Tribe, which would have no obligation to recognize any declaration’s legal effect,’’ Winsor wrote.
More Lawsuits Pending in Florida
Sports betting in Florida still faces two more lawsuits. Business leaders Norman Brauman and Armando Codina, along with the No Casinos organization, are suing in federal court in the District of Columbia in hopes of stopping the expansion of gambling in the state.
West Flagler Associates also filed a lawsuit against U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, hoping the court will enjoin the sports wagering section of Florida’s compact with the Seminole Tribe. West Flagler believes the 30-year agreement with the state illegally violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which mandates any state-sanctioned gambling must occur on tribal land.
The District Court for D.C. scheduled a Nov. 5 hearing to listen to the No Casino and West Flagler cases.
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