Las Vegas Sands PAC Drops Restraining Order Request in Clash With Florida Seminole Tribe

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Las Vegas Sands PAC Drops Restraining Order Request in Clash With Florida Seminole Tribe
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A group aligned with Las Vegas Sands has dropped its request for a temporary restraining order against Seminole Tribe affiliates in the battle to expand casino gaming in Florida.

Florida Voters in Charge, a political action committee seeking enough signatures to put non-tribal casino expansion on the November 2022 ballot, abandoned its legal challenge on Saturday, according to the Miami Herald.

The Las Vegas Sands-aligned PAC had sought the restraining order, alleging tribal affiliates were using cash payments and intimidation tactics to stop the signature drive.

Last week, Judge Angela Dempsey of the 2nd Judicial Circuit in Tallahassee denied the temporary restraining order. The Leon County judge had scheduled an evidentiary hearing on Tuesday. Now that the restraining order request has been dropped, that hearing has been canceled.

Casino Company Seeking More Signatures

Las Vegas Sands, a publicly traded global gaming company, has contributed at least $27 million to Florida Voters in Charge. The Nevada-based gaming company wants voters to decide whether to allow Las Vegas-style best online casino at non-tribal North Florida card rooms.

The Florida Voters in Charge PAC is attempting to gather 891,589 signatures by Feb. 1 to put the casino expansion question on next year’s statewide ballot.

The Las Vegas Sands team has gathered about 246,000 signatures, according to the Florida Politics website. The deadline for submitting signatures is Feb. 1, but the PAC wants them submitted before Dec. 30 to give election officials time to verify the total.

The group has met an earlier deadline of 222,898 verified signatures for judicial and financial impact review, Florida Politics reported.

The PAC now has workers out across the state, attempting to collect more signatures.

“We are on pace to gather the remaining signatures to allow Florida voters to decide on the 2022 ballot if they want to expand gaming in Florida,” the Las Vegas Sands-backed PAC said in a statement.

Tribe Funds Rival Faction

The tribe has contributed at least $20 million to a rival committee, Standing up for Florida, and has said it would not retain anyone using inappropriate tactics to stop the Las Vegas Sands group from gathering signatures.

The Seminole Tribe operates six casinos in Florida, including resorts in Hollywood and Tampa, according to its website.

The tribe, consisting of about 4,300 members, owns the Hard Rock brand globally. Its members, including children, receive more than $100,000 each from gaming revenue annually, according to WTVJ-TV.

Hard Rock Sportsbook Taken Down in Legal Dispute

As the statewide signature effort continues, a federal judge recently declared that the Seminole Hard Rock Sportsbook mobile app is illegal. The app was launched without fanfare on Nov. 1.

Noting that tribal gaming is required to take place on tribal land, the judge ruled it is a “fiction” to claim mobile bets are occurring on tribal land just because that’s where the computer serves are located to process sports wagers from anywhere in the state.

As the legal battle over the mobile app continues, the tribe has shut down the Hard Rock Sportsbook app, at least temporarily. It was the only mobile sports betting app in operation in Florida.

A separate initiative petition drive, backed by DraftKings and FanDuel, is underway to allow voters to decide whether commercial online bookmakers can operate in Florida.

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