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Third Lawsuit Filed Against New Florida Gambling Compact

Trio Of Entrepreneurs And Anti-Gambling Group File Suit In U.S. District Court, Argue That The Entire Agreement Is Unlawful

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A few South Florida businessmen and an anti-gambling group have filed a third lawsuit against the Sunshine State’s new gambling compact that would bring expanded gambling and sports betting to the state.

Armando Codina, Jim Carr and Norman Braman partnered with a group called No Casinos filed a suit in a U.S. District Court Monday night in Washington D.C., according to a report from Florida Phoenix. The suit comes just a few months after a pair of Florida pari-mutuels filed lawsuits at both the state and federal level to stop the sports betting provisions of the agreement from being implemented.

Unlike the pair of lawsuits already filed by the family that owns Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room, the new lawsuit seeks to keep the entire compact from moving forward, as opposed to just one aspect of it.

Codina and Carr both own real estate firms while Braman owns several high-end car dealerships in the state. Braman is worth an estimated $2.8 billion and used to own the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.

No Casinos is an organization run by John Sowinski that advocates for voters to control the gambling market. It was the same group that spearheaded the effort to pass Amendment 3 in the 2018 election, which gave voters the right to vote on any sort of future gambling expansion.

The trio of entrepreneurs argue that the impending expansion of the gambling market will result in a lower quality of life, which will affect the area’s property values, and ultimately their businesses.

“By allowing new forms of Class III gaming activities [including craps, roulette, mobile sports betting and more casinos] on and off Indian lands and in violation of Amendment 3’s voter approval requirement, the DOI approval adversely impacts Plaintiff’s properties and neighborhoods by, among other things, increasing neighborhood traffic, increasing neighborhood congestion, increasing criminal activity, reducing open spaces, and reducing property values,” read the suit.

The suit went on to say that the compact also violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and the Wire Act.

The lawsuit lists U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland as the defendant. She is technically the person most directly responsible for the 30-year agreement passing through the federal government as she heads the department in charge of anything related to a federally recognized tribe.

In August, Haaland opted to simply allow the 45-day window for federal review to expire instead of signing or vetoing the agreement between the Seminole Tribe and Gov. Ron DeSantis. The agreement would allow for expanded gambling options at both tribal casinos and pari-mutuel facilities and would allow the Seminoles to act as the hub both online and live in the new sports betting market.

By passing the compact through inaction, the DOI only approved the parts of the compact that were already in compliance with current law. Haaland penned a letter to the tribe stating that the DOI had issues with parts of the revenue sharing and sports betting provisions but didn’t mention much of what was addressed the entrepreneurs’ lawsuit.

With the pari-mutuels’ lawsuit only concerned with sports betting, it appeared that the rest of the compact would launch without a hitch. This lawsuit could change that. If neither lawsuit gains any traction in the court system, the expansions would be implemented within the next few months.

The Seminole Tribe already filed motions to have the first two suits dismissed. Similar motions will likely be filed against this one.

The new agreement would generate at least $2.5 billion for state coffers over the next five years. It’s estimated to generate $20 billion over the course of the three-decade arrangement.