Federal government will appeal Florida Gaming Compact ruling
Image via AP.

bet betting gamble gambling
The federal court decision had struck down Gaming Compact, online sports betting.

U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has notified a federal court that she and the Department of Interior intend to appeal the November court decision that struck down internet sports betting and Florida’s 2021 Gaming Compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Haaland filed her notice to appeal the decision Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The actual appeal is set to be filed by Saturday.

The federal government’s argument would have to convince the Appeals Court that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act gives the Interior Department authority to approve Florida’s Gaming Compact even if the Compact allows bets to be placed outside tribal lands.

The notice itself does not reveal what arguments Haaland and the government might be preparing to make.

On Nov. 22, the U.S. District Court issued a summary judgment invalidating her federal approval. Without that approval, the Compact could not be enacted.

That decision shut down the Seminole Tribe’s sports betting app, which had only been activated three weeks earlier. The decision also left in limbo other provisions in the 2021 Gaming Compact, which would have allowed the addition of other casino games and future expansion of gambling by the Seminole Tribe. Sports betting, however, was the first big expansion in line.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida already has filed its own appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit.

The federal appeal, however, may have stronger standing. One of the things the U.S. District Court did in November was rule that the Seminole Tribe’s attempt to intervene in that case was moot.

Until the notice was actually filed Thursday, Haaland and the federal government were quiet about whether they would bother to appeal.

The Compact was challenged and fell because of a federal lawsuit filed by the owners of two South Florida card rooms: West Flagler Associates, which does business as Magic City Casino, and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp., which does business as Bonita Springs Poker Room.

They argued the approval was unlawful because it allowed the Tribe to operate gaming outside its own reservation, which they said is not permitted under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The groups raised qualms about Floridians placing sports bets on smartphones or computers through the Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock Sportsbook app.

West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. also argued the approval violates other federal laws by unlawfully permitting internet and bank wire transmission and payments relating to sports betting in Florida, where sports betting is otherwise illegal, and by granting the Seminole Tribe what the organizations asserted was a statewide monopoly over internet sports gambling.

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].


  • Christopher Cummings

    January 22, 2022 at 7:44 am

    Obviously, this is a very complex situation, and I am not an attorney, but I do wonder if the Seminole tribe could be viewed as any other entity, in terms of contracting to provide a service to the State. Several states have contracted with commercial corporations to provide lottery and / or sports betting services. Being in a Highly Regulated Industry, the monopoly issues would not apply, in much the same way that they do not for utility companies.

    Perhaps the compact is not the best tool to use for the specifics, but as a peer government, I would think at least some provision to establish a business relationship and become a service provider to the State of FL would be appropriate. Perhaps that is already covered by other, existing portions of the Compact, anyway, since the Tribe pays the State a portion of its revenues.

    Bottom line, I believe that if the State of FL wants to use any entity to provide sports betting services, that is within there jurisdictional power.

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704