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Supreme Court Grants Extension in West Flagler v. Haaland CaseDRAFT

Discover the latest developments in the West Flagler v. Haaland case as the US Supreme Court grants an extension for the federal government's response. Explore the implications for Florida's sports betting landscape and the legal battle over the Seminole Tribe's gaming compact.
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Branimir Ivanov | Senior News Contributor

Updated: Mar 7, 2024

Supreme Court Grants Extension in West Flagler v. Haaland Case

In a recent development surrounding the legal battle over Florida's gaming compact, the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has granted the federal government a 30-day extension to respond to the West Flagler v. Haaland case. This decision comes as a significant moment in a case that has major implications for the future of sports betting in the Sunshine State.

Last month, West Flagler and Associates (WFA) initiated legal proceedings by submitting a writ petition with the SCOTUS against the Department of the Interior (DOI). The petition challenged the legality of the 2021 Seminole Tribe-Florida compact, which granted the Seminoles exclusive rights to operate retail and online sports betting in Florida.

 

The Key Movements

  1. SCOTUS grants a 30-day extension for the federal government's response in the West Flagler v. Haaland case, concerning the legality of Florida's gaming compact.
  2. West Flagler and Associates challenge the Seminole Tribe-Florida compact, alleging violations of federal gambling laws and unfair monopoly practices.
  3. The outcome of this legal battle could significantly impact the regulation of sports betting in Florida and set precedents for tribal gaming compacts nationwide.

 

 

Originally, the DOI was slated to respond to the latest brief from WFA by March 13. However, US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar requested an extension until April 12, citing the heavy workload of attorneys handling the matter. This extension request was granted by the Supreme Court.

The case revolves around key questions raised by WFA, represented by attorney Hamish Hume, regarding the validity of the Florida gaming compact. These questions include whether the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) authorizes the approval of a compact that establishes an online sports betting monopoly off tribal lands and whether such a compact violates federal gambling laws.

At the heart of the dispute is the allegation that US Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland exceeded her authority in approving the compact under the IGRA. WFA contends that the compact unfairly grants the Seminole Tribe a monopoly on online sports betting, while state law prohibits such activity for other entities.

This legal battle has seen various twists and turns, with a US district court initially ruling in favor of WFA, only to have the decision overturned by an appellate court in favor of the DOI. Following this setback, WFA turned to the Supreme Court, seeking a review of the case.

 

This extension underscores the complexity of the legal issues at hand and their broader implications for gaming regulation in Florida.

 

The West Flagler and Associates' challenge to the gaming compact is just one facet of its broader legal strategy. The company is also pursuing legal action against Governor Ron DeSantis and the state legislature in the Florida Supreme Court, alleging that the compact was unlawfully granted in violation of state law.

Florida's foray into sports betting began in 2021 with the approval of the 30-year gaming compact, which granted the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to operate sports betting both online and at their inland casinos across the state. The compact allowed the tribe to launch Hard Rock Bet online sports betting, which commenced operations in November, followed by in-person sports betting in December.

As the legal battle continues to unfold, the outcome of the West Flagler v. Haaland case could have far-reaching implications not only for the Seminole Tribe but also for the broader landscape of sports betting regulation in Florida and beyond. The extension granted by the Supreme Court underscores the complexity and significance of the issues at stake, ensuring that all parties have ample time to present their arguments before the highest court in the land.

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