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Court Motion Likely Delays Relaunch Of Florida Sports Betting

Written By Matthew Kredell on September 19, 2023
Florida Sports Betting Case Delay

A court motion by Florida gaming entity West Flagler has prevented the Seminole Tribe from relaunching Florida sports betting.

Late Friday, West Flagler asked the DC Circuit US Court of Appeals to stay its mandate while the company appeals to the US Supreme Court.

Before the motion, the DC Circuit was to issue its mandate Monday, seven days after its denial of the plaintiff’s request to rehear the case. That would have given the Seminole Tribe the green light to relaunch its online sports betting app as early as Monday through Hard Rock Bet.

A mandate is the official order by which the appellate court notifies the lower court of its decision.

The DC Circuit ruled June 30 in West Flagler v. Haaland that the compact between the Seminole Tribe and State of Florida did not violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), reversing a US District Court decision.

The motion likely delays the mandate until at least next Monday, preventing eager Floridians from legally betting on NFL and college football games for another week.

Explaining mandate delay

Florida-based gaming and sports law attorney Daniel Wallach pointed PlayUSA to the following DC Circuit rules that apply to the motion:

  • If a timely motion to stay issuance of the mandate has been filed, the mandate will not issue while the motion is pending.
  • Any party may file a response to the motion. The response must be filed within 10 days after service of the motion unless the court shortens or extends the time.
  • No motion to stay issuance of the mandate will be granted by the clerk until after the response time has passed.

West Flagler filed the motion Sept. 15, which sets the response deadline at Sept. 25.

The language specifically refers to granting issuance of the stay. It does not necessarily require the court to wait 10 days if rejecting the motion.

Legal experts, including Wallach, expect the DC Circuit to deny the plaintiff’s motion to stay the mandate.

However, past precedent indicates the DC Circuit is likely to let the process play out. Everyone expected the court to deny West Flagler’s request for rehearing en banc.

The DC Circuit still asked the Department of Interior to respond to the motion. Following the response, the DC Circuit took 11 more days to deny rehearing.

DC Circuit could allow time to pursue stay with Supreme Court

With the motion, West Flagler confirmed its intention to petition the Supreme Court to hear the case. The 90-day window to appeal to the Supreme Court began Sept. 11.

If the DC Circuit denies the motion to stay the mandate, West Flagler could file an emergency application with the Supreme Court to stay issuance of the appellate mandate.

West Flagler telegraphed the move in its motion, asking the DC Circuit, alternatively, to stay the mandate for a sufficient period of time to permit applying for a stay with the Supreme Court.

The DC Circuit could be more amenable to granting that limited time. Wallach said that, over the last term, the Supreme Court took between seven and 22 days to decide similar requests.

The only certainty in Florida is that much uncertainty remains around when the Seminoles might relaunch online sports betting. Depending on court decisions, it could be within a week or take a month.

And if the DC Circuit or the Supreme Court grants the stay, it could be years while the case continues to play out.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Matthew Kredell

Matthew Kredell serves as senior lead writer of legislative affairs involving online gambling at PlayUSA. He began covering efforts to legalize and regulate online gambling in 2007 after federal passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act disrupted his hobby of playing small-stakes online poker. He has since interviewed more than 300 lawmakers around the country and written extensively about online gambling legislation. He has led coverage of bills to legalize online gambling in most states. A lifelong Angeleno and USC journalism alum, Matthew started his career working as a sportswriter for a decade at the Los Angeles Daily News. He has written on a variety of topics for Playboy Magazine, Men’s Journal, Los Angeles magazine, LA Weekly and ESPN.com.

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