Seminole Tribe attempts to dismiss lawsuit against Florida gaming compact
The Seminole Tribe filed documents in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., earlier this week to dismiss a lawsuit challenging Florida sports betting and the approved gaming compact.
The tribe filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, and a motion to intervene, in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. West Flagler Associates, on behalf of wwners of Magic City Casino in Miami-Dade County and Bonita Springs Poker Room, filed the lawsuit against the compact on July 2, arguing that the gaming deal violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act by allowing bets to be made off tribal lands.
The gaming compact grants exclusive in person and online sports betting to the Seminole Tribe, as well as the right to offer craps and roulette at its casinos. In exchange, the Seminole Tribe will make annual payment of at least $500 million a year to the state.
Does the gaming compact violate IGRA?
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, argues that online sports betting outside of tribal lands is illegal. The 30-year gaming compact contains language claiming that online sports betting off of tribal land is legal, as the bets are process through Seminole Tribe internet servers that are physically located on tribal lands. The lawsuit requests the court to prohibit sports betting from the gaming compact.
The plaintiffs argue that casinos in the state will lose millions in revenue if Florida residents can participate in sports wagering from their own homes.
Seminole Tribe argues it is an “indispensable party”
The lawsuit named Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and Julie Brown, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation secretary, as defendants in the case. However, the Seminole Tribe argues that is an “indispensable party” when it comes to rulings on the Florida gaming compact and the case should be dismissed.
“The Tribe is seeking limited intervention in this case to protect its sovereign right not to have its legal rights and duties adjudicated in its absence. It has done this by moving to intervene for the limited purpose of filing a motion to dismiss for failure to join it as a necessary and indispensable party pursuant to Rule 19,” the motion to intervene noted.
According to the motion, the tribe has a “direct, significant and legally protected interest in this case” and their interest would be impaired if the case were to move on with the tribe’s absence.
The tribe argues that due to its “indispensable party” status in the lawsuit it should be included in the proceedings, but due to its “sovereign immunity” cannot join the lawsuit, and thus the whole suit should be thrown out.
“The Tribe expects to realize profits in the hundreds of millions of dollars from sports betting over the life of the 2021 Compact and those profits would be lost if the challenged provisions are invalidated,” the tribe notes in its motion to intervene.
This lawsuit is the second against the gaming compact filed by West Flagler Associates on behalf of the owners of Magic City Casino in Miami-Dade County and Bonita Springs Poker Room. The other lawsuit was filed earlier this month in federal court against Deb Haaland, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, challenging her approval of the 2021 Florida gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe.