South Florida poker rooms drop a Seminole Gaming Compact challenge

Gambling and law concept, playing cards, money, dices and wooden judge gavel
They're winning in another lawsuit.

Two South Florida poker rooms have withdrawn their case in a federal appeals court, essentially closing one of their legal challenges to Florida’s 2021 Gaming Compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

That suit had apparently become unnecessary to the poker rooms’ effort to invalidate the Compact, as they’re pursuing a different legal path in another court, where they are winning.

West Flagler Associates, which does business as Magic City Casino, and Bonita-Fort Myers Corporation, which does business as Bonita Springs Poker Room, asked the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals last Friday to dismiss their appeal in a case against Florida.

The court granted the request Monday.

That means that the poker rooms’ lawsuit against Florida won’t be revived by appeal. In November U.S. District Judge Allen Winsor ruled the poker rooms did not have standing to sue Gov. Ron DeSantis over the deal. Winsor dismissed the case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida. The appeal was the poker rooms’ attempt to revive the suit.

Yet Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room had filed two lawsuits trying to challenge the Compact, in two separate federal courts, against two separate sets of defendants. The poker rooms were victorious in the other suit last month, invalidating the Compact, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. That suit also is on appeal.

Magic City Casino’s request for dismissal of the lawsuit against DeSantis and Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Julie Brown said the defendants’ lawyers were consulted and they had no objections to that case being dropped.

The poker rooms’ other suit is against U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and the Department of the Interior, charging that they were wrong to approve Florida’s Compact because the deal violated Florida’s Constitution, which requires any expansion of gambling to be approved by statewide ballot.

On Nov. 22, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich agreed with the poker rooms, and granted them a summary judgment victory. The Seminole Tribe of Florida appealed that decision to the U.S. Appeals Court for the District of Columbia, where it is now pending.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected]


One comment

  • Pete

    December 23, 2021 at 9:45 am

    Scott since you like to talk about campaign donations so much why don’t you talk about the donations to legislators from hard rock? Again another waste of print!

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