TAMPA, Fla. — With a federal appeals court blocking an agreement between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe, online gambling remains shut down in the state.
The brief run, highlighted with the Hard Rock Casino’s sports betting app, quietly went live on Nov. 1. The ruling shut it down a month later.
So where does that leave the agreement, the Tribe's push for online betting and a Florida sports betting audience that had a brief fling with online gambling?
On the latest episode of our To The Point Already podcast, Rick Elmhorst and Roy De Jesus discuss online gambling in Florida with Grant Christensen, a Stetson University law professor and expert on Federal Indian Law and Adam Anderson, who had been using the new sports betting app.
The suspension of the betting app comes just over a month after it started accepting wagers, with it now displaying a message to customers that it will temporarily suspend operations in Florida.
The agreement had made Florida the latest state to legalize sports gambling since a 2018 Supreme Court ruling. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis had worked out the compact with the tribe earlier this year and the state was poised to receive $20 billion over the next 30 years.
"(The) Seminole Tribe is a sovereign nation," Christensen said. "The Seminole Nation (technically) isn't in the state of Florida. And so there is no obligation that the state vote on (gambling) pursuant to the Florida Constitution.
"So the (state) legislature saw this opportunity to create an online portal and the compact was negotiated and opened Nov. 1."
But the ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit follows a lower court’s decision to block an agreement between Florida and the Seminoles to allow online sports betting because it violates a federal rule requiring a person to be physically on tribal land when wagering.
The lawsuit, which was filed by non-Indian casino owners in Florida, challenged the approval of the deal by the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees tribal gambling operations.
So that leaves thousands of bettors on the sidelines and billions of dollars on the table - for now.
"I like that it makes every play that more meaningful and exciting," said Anderson, who used the sports betting app before the ruling shut it down. "I bet on boxing and basketball. It livens up the game other than just seeing who wins and loses. There's a lot of action."
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Spectrum Bay News 9 Anchor Rick Elmhorst sits down with the people that represent you, the people fighting for change and the people with fascinating stories to ask the hard questions.