IGRA gambling regulations challenge the Seminole Tribe Compact

When the U.S. Department of the Interior took no action on the 2021 Gaming Compact between the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe, sports bettors rejoiced. The agreement allowed the tribe to conduct online sports betting.

But more than one person was surprised that the Interior Ministry let the pact go through. It violated one of the key points of the Indian Gambling Regulation Act. The IGRA gambling regulations state that only gambling on “Indian land” is permitted under the law.

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However, when the Interior Ministry allowed the pact to pass, it violated established precedent.

“After thorough review under IGRA, we took no action to approve or disapprove the compact prior to August 5, 2021, the 45th day,” Bryan Newland, principal assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, wrote to the Florida governor .

Ron DeSantis and Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida Marcellus Osceola Jr. “As a result, the compact is deemed to have been approved by operation of law to the extent it complies with IGRA and applicable federal law.”

The compact adopted a liberal interpretation of what constituted “Indian land.” It stated that bets placed through servers on tribal lands would be deemed to have been made on tribal lands. But US courts have not agreed with this interpretation in the past.

Lawsuits filed quickly

West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation filed a federal lawsuit to stop the pact.

“The assumption that the bet was made on Indian land because the servers are located there contradicts decades of established precedent interpreting applicable federal law,” the lawsuit says. “Contrary to the legal fiction created by the Pact and Implementation Act 2021, a bet is placed where both the bettor and the casino are located.”

The lawsuit states that the contract violates the Wire Act of 1961, the Unlawful Gaming Enforcement Act of 2006 and IGRA. By allowing people to place bets through online sports betting sites, it violates IGRA, it said.

The state’s own words could come back to haunt him. Florida had previously argued that bets must be placed on tribal lands to fall under IGRA gambling regulations. The matter involved the Couer d’Alene Tribe of Idaho and online gambling.

Supreme Court asked to intervene

Both the Seminoles and the two plaintiffs won a court round. The casinos that filed the lawsuit won in court. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed the district court’s decision on June 30, 2023.

The plaintiffs then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, demanding an immediate halt to the pact. The Supreme Court agreed and temporarily suspended the pact. But the stay was lifted a few weeks later and the Seminole Tribe began offering online sports betting.

Well-known sports betting attorney Daniel Wallach filed a 32-page amicus brief with the Supreme Court earlier this week. He agrees with the plaintiffs that the contract should not be recognized.

“A careful review of the relevant treaty provisions confirms that off-reservation tribal gaming activities are expressly ‘authorized’ by the treaty,” he wrote. “The compact’s authorization of tribal gaming operations outside of reservations is a clear violation of IGRA’s restriction on ‘Indian lands.’”

This is good and bad news for sports bettors in the state. If the Supreme Court finds the contract violates IGRA gambling regulations, there will no longer be a place to legally bet on sports in Florida.

But current law only allows Hard Rock Bet in Florida. As the only licensed sportsbook in Florida, you don’t have to worry about competition. This eliminates the need for sports betting bonuses and other readily available promotions in a competitive market.

The Supreme Court is not obliged to accept the appeal. Sports bettors in Florida will be watching the game with interest.

For gambling news, odds analysis and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.

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