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DOI Says Supreme Court Not Needed In Florida Betting Case

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The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) doesn’t believe the U.S. Supreme Court should be involved in the legal controversy surrounding Florida sports betting.

DOI’s 31-page filing was written by Department of Justice attorneys on behalf of the DOI in response to West Flager’s writ of certiorari request, and it emphasizes that recent court rulings allowing the state’s current sports betting system are correct.

The Seminole Tribe has a compact with the state, which allows it to hold a sports betting monopoly in the Sunshine State. Hard Rock Bet is the only betting app available in Florida.

West Flagler has argued that compact shouldn’t be allowed to exist, while the DOI disagrees. West Flagler is hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will take a look at the issue, while the DOI is aiming to prevent the case from reaching that level.

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DOI’s argument

The DOI focuses on three questions in its 31-page response:

  • Does the compact violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act?
  • Does the compact violate the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act?
  • Does the approval of the compact violate the equal-protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause?

The response claims that the agreement does not violate any of those three, therefore it should remain in place and shouldn’t be heard by the Supreme Court.

The idea that tribes and states are largely allowed to negotiate on their own terms proved to be a major argument throughout the DOI’s response. The response also mentions that the DOI never actually signed the compact agreement, but rather let it go into effect without a signature.

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“IGRA largely leaves the substance of a Tribal-State compact concerning gaming on Indian lands to be determined by the Tribe and the State that negotiate it,” the response says.

Additionally, the response leans heavily on the court of appeals decision allowing the compact to remain in place following a district court ruling in favor of West Flagler. The response mentions that the court of appeals didn’t view the compact in violation with the UIGEA.

DOI also leaned on the court of appeals ruling when discussing the Fifth Amendment question. DOI believes the matter relating to a tribal and state agreement belongs in state court, rather than the federal level.

It’s now up to the Supreme Court to determine if it wants to hear the case.

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