Updated January 9, 2024By Chris Boline
The ongoing battle for overall sports betting legalization continues in Florida with some interesting new developments per a recent report. According to the South Florida Sun Sentinel, the Florida Supreme Court could rule on sports betting any day now, experts say, though it’s also possible the case will stretch on for years. West Flagler Associates, the group of betting companies that brought the lawsuit, filed its final brief earlier this month, replying to arguments made by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office and making its last plea for the court to take up the case. At stake, West Flager argues, are the rights of Florida’s voters, over 70% of whom approved a constitutional amendment in 2018, known as Amendment 3, that gives voters the sole power to “authorize casino gambling” in the state, through another constitutional amendment.
For this article, SBS will be going over what to look for from the latest gaming news coming from Florida and also more notes about Sunshine State gambling.
West Flagler has been critical of Governor DeSantis
According to the same report, critics often have accused DeSantis and the state of circumventing constitutional amendments and have cited the agreement between the Seminole tribe and the state as an example. West Flagler asserts that it seeks to preserve voters’ power and that DeSantis and the state violated that power through a gaming compact that legalizes online sports betting. This is now widely available in Florida, as long as the servers are on Seminole Tribe lands. “The only necessary parties before the Court are, therefore, the Legislature, which enacted the Implementing Law, the Governor, who signed the Compact and Implementing Law, and the People (through Petitioners), whose constitutional power was usurped,” attorneys write in the reply brief.
A Florida Supreme Court ruling might touch not only on gambling law but the agency of Florida’s voters through the constitutional amendments they support. “Certainly (the decision) could have precedential force as to people’s right of initiative,” Daniel Wallach, a sports betting attorney based in Hallandale Beach, told the Sun Sentinel in the report. Ruling against DeSantis’ office “could fortify potential challengers to legislative or executive actions that are arguably in derogation of the state constitution,” Wallach added. “It’s an important case not just for gambling, but could have a lasting impact for other kinds of constitutional challenges.”
Counter argument says voters not given much choice
As noted in the same report, democracy isn’t the main issue some say, because the amendment doesn’t give voters much agency in the first place. “I don’t think Amendment 3 largely does anything with respect to voter power,” said Quinn Yeargain, an assistant law professor at Widener University Commonwealth Law School. “I don’t think that under any circumstances, the procedure for voter approval under Amendment 3 will ever be able to be successfully utilized.” Moreover, the court has four options, Wallach said, two of which avoid deciding immediately. It could grant West Flagler’s request, deny it, transfer the case to a circuit court, or hear oral arguments first. Per the article, he thinks denying and transferring are the most likely.
Judicial procedure is perhaps as important as the case itself in determining the Florida Supreme Court’s next steps. If the court does take up the case, it will ignore its own precedent of allowing lower courts to weigh in. This is according to Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University who teaches a class on gambling law. Legal experts also have long pointed out that the court is stacked with DeSantis appointees who have a history of ruling against similar cases seeking a “writ of quo warranto” to rein in the powers of an elected official. If the court doesn’t reach an immediate decision on whether sports betting is casino gambling, it may look to the question of federal law. The amendment makes an exception for sports betting agreements between tribes and states under the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act per the article.
Without oral arguments, the court could rule in the first quarter of 2024. If the court decides not to take up the case, it could be years before a decision is reached as the lawsuit makes its way back through the appeal system, Jarvis said in the article. There is a small, “infinitesimal” chance the court could decide it’s important enough to rule on the entire thing now, likely because it doesn’t want the issue “hanging over the Seminoles.” However, Jarvis compared it to an asteroid hitting the Earth. “Once in a while, it happens,” he said in the article.
Even more information about Florida wagering
After you are all dialed in regarding the latest gaming news coming from Florida, make sure to also check out the wide variety of information for you only at SBS. Of course, for even more notes and info about the Sunshine State, make sure to check out the Florida sports betting guide which goes over all of the latest topics related to the world of Florida sports betting. Conversely, for those looking to keep the good times rolling while you are on the go, our best betting apps rundown is a fantastic resource for mobile betting and always has you stay on top of the action. Finally, if you are perhaps uncertain about which payment options are the best for you, then the payment methods breakdown is a must-read page where you can learn more about the different deposit and withdrawal options available to you.
About the Author
As a devout aficionado of sports, Chris Boline has carved a career within the athletic realm. A skilled scribe, he boasts a decade-long portfolio that encompasses coverage of the NBA G League, the Los Angeles Chargers, football in the Mountain West Conference, and basketball.
Beyond his professional pursuits, Chris is deeply invested in his community and dedicates his leisure hours to serving on boards, collaborating with community organizations, and cherishing the company of loved ones.
Read Chris’s Profile
Ask Chris about this guide: