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Florida Supreme Court Won’t Shut Down Online Sports Betting Just Yet

Written By Derek Helling on November 20, 2023
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If you’re currently using Hard Rock Bet to legally wager on sporting events online in Florida, your access to that online gambling platform is probably safe for the rest of 2023. Beyond that, though, the situation is still murky.

The Florida Supreme Court has denied a request to immediately intervene and put a stop to legal sports betting on Hard Rock Bet in the state. That is no guarantee that future results in that and other legal actions will be similarly kind to Hard Rock Bet’s interest, however.

On Monday, West Flagler Associates petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for an extension to file a writ of certiorari until Feb. 9, 2024.

Florida Supreme Court denies petition to halt online sports betting

On Nov. 8, two events that were of particular interest to Floridians engaged in using Hard Rock Bet happened within hours of each other. The app resumed taking wagers in Florida under certain circumstances in a testing phase.

Just hours later, West Flagler Associates petitioned the state’s supreme court to respond to that event. West Flagler operates multiple off-track betting parlors in Florida. Under the terms of the current gaming compact between Florida, the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the US Department of the Interior, such companies can legally offer in-person sports betting to guests but only in partnership with the Seminole Tribe.

West Flagler has been challenging the validity of that compact for years now. To date, those challenges have been unsuccessful. That trend continued with the Florida Supreme Court denying West Flagler’s latest request.

West Flagler argued to the court that online betting in Florida represented an illegal expansion of gambling. West Flagler’s petition asked the court to issue an immediate injunction against that activity as the case continues.

The court disagreed and denied that petition on Nov. 17. Thus, for now, online sports betting in Florida on the Hard Rock Bet app will continue to proceed legally. Florida’s highest court will still render its judgment on the larger issues, though.

Hard Rock Bet not out of the glades just yet

While the latest ruling undoubtedly favors the Seminole Tribe’s interest, the legal challenges are far from over. West Flagler’s larger challenge to the constitutionality of the gaming compact is still before Florida’s highest court.

A decision in that case is unlikely to come in what’s left of 2023. A ruling is likely in the early months of 2024, however. There is still a possibility that the Florida Supreme Court could shut down legal online wagering in the state.

Additionally, the court in Tallahassee might not be the only one to weigh in yet. West Flagler also has a pending appeal to the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC. At this point, though, the high court has not decided whether it will consider the appeal. On Monday, West Flagler asked the U.S. Supreme Court for an extension until Feb. 9, 2024, to file a writ of certiorari.

Again, such a decision could come in the early months of 2024. Should the US Supreme Court take up the case, it will be deciding whether US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland erred when she approved the gaming compact.

Currently, there are several possible scenarios in which West Flagler’s legal avenues to challenge the compact will fail. The paths to success for West Flagler in that endeavor are decreasing in number.

For the moment, all West Flagler can do is prepare for its day in court in Tallahassee next year.

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Derek Helling

Derek Helling is the assistant managing editor of PlayUSA. Helling focuses on breaking news, including finance, regulation, and technology in the gaming industry. Helling completed his journalism degree at the University of Iowa and resides in Chicago

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