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Florida Pari-Mutuel Facilities File Lawsuit To Stop State's New Gaming Compact With Seminole Tribe

Magic City Casino And Bonita Springs Poker Room Filed A Lawsuit Claiming That The Sports Betting Portion Of The Deal Violates Federal Law


Two pari-mutuel facilities in Florida filed a federal lawsuit to try and stop the state’s new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe from being implemented.

Magic City Casino in Miami and Bonita Springs Poker Room filed a lawsuit arguing that the new deal, which will bring at least $2.5 billion in new tax revenue over the next five years, violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The new agreement between the tribe and the state would allow for expanded gambling options at the Seminole-owned casinos, including craps and roulette, as well as retail and online sports betting. The Seminole Tribe would function as the hub for the state’s sports betting operation with the new compact forcing pari-mutuel facilities to partner with the Tribe if it wanted to run a sportsbook.

Any partnerships that were formed would allow the pari-mutuel facility to keep 60% of the revenue, while the Tribe would get the other 40%, and pay the state 10% of its cut.

The lawsuit argues that since the IGRA only allows sports betting while physically on Tribal land, the online sports betting operation violates the federal law, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. It also claims that the pari-mutuel facilities are essentially shut out of the market by forcing them to partner with the tribe.

While the compact was approved by the state legislature in May, it still needs approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior, which deals with Native American affairs. The compact originally had language in it that could’ve brought online poker to the Sunshine State, but it was removed to secure a smooth passage by lawmakers.

The state and the tribe argue that since the servers for the online sportsbooks will be located on Seminole land, it adheres to the federal standards.

Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University in the Fort Lauderdale area, told the Sun-Sentinel that there was a similar argument made when a California tribe tried to offer online bingo. A federal judge ruled against the tribe and forced the tribe to stop offering the game.

According to Jarvis, the key difference between the California case and the suit filed by the two Florida properties is that California state lawmakers didn’t already approve the tribe’s offering.

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has another month to approve the 30-year compact. If a judge grants the injunction, however, it could take years before there is any expanded gambling in Florida, depending on how high the case rises in federal courts.