Seminoles' 'irreparable harm' is self-inflicted as they continue to offer Florida online sports betting, claims West Flagler Associates
In its response to a request for an emergency stay, West Flagler Associates claims the “irreparable harm” cited by the Seminole Tribe is self-inflicted as long as it continues to offer Florida online sports betting and unlawful gaming to its customers.
West Flagler Associates, on behalf of Magic City Casino, submitted its official response to the Seminole Tribe’s emergency motion for a stay pending the appeal of a federal court judge’s decision to dismiss Florida’s gaming compact.
Tribe’s ‘irreparable harm’ is self-inflicted
The Seminole Tribe argues if a stay is not granted, it would cause “irreparable harm” to the tribe. The tribe stands to lose “substantial revenue if a stay is not granted pending appeal, including specifically from online sports betting.”
In their submitted response, West Flagler Associates argue the tribe can’t claim lost revenue when it has said it won’t stop offering gaming and sports betting to customers pending the appeal process.
“The Tribe has been disingenuous with the Court over its alleged irreparable harm: while telling the Court that, absent an emergency stay, it ‘stands to lose’ tens of millions in revenue, it is telling its customers (over a week after the District Court’s ruling) that its unlawful online sports gaming ‘remains fully open to all players’ and ‘there is no need to worry,'” West Flagler noted in its response.
The tribe’s irreparable harm is self-inflicted, according to counsel for West Flagler. The tribe willfully offered online sports betting just two weeks before the federal court hearing and Judge Dabney L. Friedrich’s ultimate decision to dismiss the gaming compact in its entirety.
The tribe continues to offer sports betting through the Hard Rock Sportsbook app, despite the federal judgment against the compact, which will likely force Florida pari-mutuels or another party to file an enforcement action to block the illegal gambling.
“Unless and until the Tribe commits that it will stop offering online sports gaming absent a stay, this Court should not credit the Tribe’s claims of irreparable harm,” West Flagler writes.
No lost sovereignty off of tribal lands
As for the tribe’s claims of lost sovereignty, counsel for West Flagler Associates argues the tribe has no sovereign rights to lose, as gambling off of Indian lands is in direct violation of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
All cases cited by the tribe supporting its claim that “loss of sovereignty” is irreparable harm address removal of tribal control and jurisdiction over sovereign land, or attempts by the government to enforce U.S. law on tribal land.
“None of these cases concerns what is at issue here—the Tribe’s attempt to conduct unlawful activities statewide while invoking sovereign immunity to prevent review of its unlawful actions.”
The federal government, on behalf of U.S. Secretary the Interior Deb Haaland, also submitted a response to the tribe’s request for a motion of stay. It said it did not agree with the tribe’s reasoning for a stay, but it does not officially oppose its request.
“Although the federal government disagrees with the particular analysis presented in the Tribe’s motion regarding likelihood of success on the merits, it does not oppose the Tribe’s request that a stay be granted,” the government wrote.
The Seminole Tribe has until Wednesday, Dec. 1, at noon to offer a reply.