West Flagler has taken its legal challenge of the Seminole Tribe’s compact with Florida to the highest court in the country.
The Florida-based parimutuel company filed an application with the US Supreme Court to stay the mandate issued by the DC Circuit US Court of Appeals.
On June 30, the DC Circuit overturned a District Court ruling invalidating the Seminole compact for including statewide online sports betting. In reaffirming the compact, the DC Circuit determined that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) can include, but not authorize, gaming off Indian lands agreed upon between the tribe and state.
Issuing the mandate lets the lower court know that the Seminole compact was reinstated, which could lead the Seminoles to relaunch Florida sports betting. West Flagler asked the Supreme Court not to let that happen while it works on its appeal to SCOTUS.
West Flagler’s lawyers explains:
“There is good cause for the stay as a matter of public policy. Unless the mandate is stayed, the Circuit Opinion will upset the status quo in Florida by permitting the Tribe to conduct online sports gaming throughout the state. … Absent a stay, the Compact will give rise to hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of sports betting transactions that violate both state and federal law before this Court has the opportunity to address the merits.”
Chief Justice John Roberts issued a temporary order Thursday to recall and stay the mandate pending further review of the application. Roberts also ordered that a response to the application be filed by Oct. 18.
This officially stops the Seminoles from relaunching Florida sports betting until the Supreme Court rules on the request to stay. However, the tribe almost certainly was going to wait for the Supreme Court decision anyway.
Supreme Court ruling shouldn’t take long
The DC Circuit issued the mandate Friday, Oct. 6, which also is the date on the Supreme Court application.
According to scotusblog, the Supreme Court handles emergency docket applications on an expedited basis. This means limited briefing and no oral argument. The court often resolves them in unsigned orders with little or no explanation.
Sports and gaming attorney Daniel Wallach previously told PlayUSA that the US Supreme Court typically decides such filings on the emergency docket within 7 to 22 days.
In the filing, West Flagler commits to submitting its petition for writ of certiorari to SCOTUS within 45 days. That means West Flagler would file by Nov. 20, ahead of its Dec. 11 deadline.
West Flagler previously asked the DC Circuit to stay its mandate while it petitioned for cert with the US Supreme Court. The DC Circuit denied the request.
A stay denial could lead to Florida sports betting relaunch
A SCOTUS denial of the stay application could lead to the Seminoles relaunching online sports betting in Florida by Halloween.
There is also a pending filing by West Flagler in state court. But Wallach thinks the Seminoles are more focused on the US Supreme Court.
“If the Supreme Court denies the emergency application, I think that would be the trigger for the relaunch of online sports betting regardless of what’s pending in the state supreme court.”
Wallach explained that there are potential downsides in filing the emergency application with the Supreme Court to stay the mandate.
“If you get it, that could be an indicator that the court is inclined to grant cert,” Wallach said. “But if the application is denied, that could become the ultimate buzzkill for West Flagler. The court could take a dim view of the merits, which would potentially telegraph that a petition for cert is unlikely to be granted.”
However, if the Supreme Court did grant the application for stay, Wallach said that improves the chances the court will hear the case.
West Flagler attorneys argued for granting the stay:
“The Circuit Opinion enables a dramatic change in public policy on legalizing gaming that, once started, may be difficult to stop. It is in the public interest to preserve the status quo with respect to online gaming until such time as this Court as a chance to review Applicants’ petition for a writ of certiorari.”