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Florida Pari-Mutuels File Second Lawsuit Against State's New Gaming Compact

Magic City Casino And Bonita Springs Poker Room Contend That Sports Betting Provisions Violate Federal Law

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The two Florida pari-mutuel facilities that filed a lawsuit against the new gaming compact between the Seminole Indian Tribe and the state government filed a second lawsuit earlier this week.

Magic City Casino in Miami and Bonita Spring Poker Room in the southwest region of the state filed a second federal lawsuit Monday, according to the Miami Herald. The move comes just a couple of weeks after the U.S. Department of the Interior, which deals with all Tribal affairs, approved the compact through inaction.

The two properties, both of which are owned by the Havenick family, filed a similar lawsuit in Tallahassee last month, but this one was slightly amended and filed in Washington D.C. The Havenicks argue that the sports betting plan violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and will have a “significant and potentially devastating impact” on their businesses.

The second suit lists Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and the DOI as a whole, as the defendants in the suit.

While the agency passed the new gaming agreement, it didn’t formally give it the approval. Haaland allowed the 45-day window to pass which approves it “to the extent that the compact is consistent with the provisions” of the law. The Seminole Tribe received a letter from the DOI that highlighted concerns it had with certain part of the agreement. Those parts also happen to be the main issue the Havenick family takes issue with as well.

“The Department has concerns regarding the inclusion of provisions relating to jurisdiction over tort claims and mandatory vendor contracts. We also believe that the Department address provisions relating to the internet gaming activities and revenue sharing,” read the letter.

The sports betting provision, which would allow for both online and retail betting, is being referred to as a “hub-and-spoke” model with the tribe acting as the focal point of the entire operation.

Any pari-mutuel facility that decides to offer sports betting under the new compact would have to do so as a contracted vendor of the Seminoles. The tribe would take 40% of the revenue generated from those facilities and pay 10% to the state. The vendor would keep the other 60% tax-free. Any online betting would be done through the Seminole’s mobile app or website.

The plaintiffs argue that online betting portion of the sports betting model is in violation of the IRGA since the bets can be placed anywhere in the state. The Tribe worked around this by arguing that since the servers are located on native land, it complies with federal standards.

The suit also stated that the sports betting provisions put pari-mutuels like Magic City and Bonita Springs at a disadvantage for multiple reasons. One of which being that gamblers at pari-mutuel facilities would not be allowed to place sports bets in cash. The Seminole, on the other hand, would be allowed to take cash wagers on sporting events.

The agreement, which was negotiated by Gov. Ron DeSantis and passed by the state legislature in April, also expands gambling in other areas. Class III gaming, like craps and roulette, will be allowed at Seminole properties, and pari-mutuel facilities will be allowed to offer blackjack-style card games.

Those portions of the agreement are not facing legal challenges and should be implemented smoothly.