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Legal challenges expected with the $ 500 million Seminole Compact in Florida

Date posted: April 26, 2021, 03:52 noon

Last Updated: April 26, 2021, 01:24 h.

Philip Conneller

Hard Rock International, owner of the Seminole tribe, signed an agreement Friday with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) that could herald the largest gambling expansion in the state in decades. But DeSantis says the lawyers fully anticipate legal challenges that they believe may be dismissed.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (left) and Seminole Chairman Marcellus William Osceola Jr. they sign a new contract on Friday. (Image: Ron DeSantis / Twitter)

The new deal is called "historic". If approved by the legislature, it would allow Las Vegas-style sports betting and gambling, including craps and roulette, at seven casinos of the tribe in Florida. In return, the Seminols would pay the state at least $ 500 million a year, and that sum grows in proportion to the profits.

It is the culmination of five years of failed negotiations and legal battles between tribe and state. Under the terms of the agreement, Seminoles would be the sole operator of sports betting for 30 years.

If it enters into force, Florida residents over the age of 21 will be able to place a bet via the mobile apps redirected by Seminole Booking. Their selection includes professional and collegiate sports teams as well as individual results, motorsports and Olympic competitions.

Collision course with the court

The mobile component will be created a key part of the state argument if the contract is tested in court. In 2018, Florida voters passed a constitutional amendment that requires voters' approval of all proposed gambling expansions in the state. Anti-gambling advocates will argue that the deal violates this amendment.

Meanwhile, state and Seminoles attorneys are to argue that the deal does not mean an expansion of gambling in Florida, only Sovereign Land of Seminole.

They would also have to argue that state-wide mobile betting, accessible to players outside of the Seminole reservations, does not constitute a gamble expansion in the state as the servers are located within the Seminole area.

This potentially conflicts with the 2016 federal court ruling against the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel. When the nation launched an online bingo site in California in 2014 on the basis that wagers were processed on its territory, they were swiftly sued by the state of California and the federal government.

Ultimately, the court ruled: "A wager must be legal wherever it is initiated and where it has been accepted."

'All kinds of arguments'

Despite this, DeSantis is an optimist.

"There are various arguments that people will throw up out there, but ... this is supported by the Tribe, operating in the tribal lands, and I think it complies with Amendment 3. If anyone wants to deny it, both the Tribe and the State will defend the agreement," we have here today ”. - he said on Friday, as reported The Miami Herald.

Wealthy Florida businessmen Armando Codina and Norman Braman, opponents of the gambling expansion, confirmed The Herald have carefully looked at the legislation accompanying the Seminole Agreement and were prepared to bring legal action when needed.

It may never come to this. While the bill has the support it needs in the Senate, support is less certain in the House of Representatives, which has become a graveyard for gambling expansion bills in recent years.

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