In the ongoing legal battle surrounding sports betting in Florida, No Casinos, a prominent anti-gambling lobbying group based in the state, has submitted an amicus curae brief to the Florida Supreme Court in the case of West Flagler v. Ron DeSantis.
The crux of No Casinos’ argument revolves around its assertion that Governor DeSantis’ approval of the Seminoles compact with Florida violates Article X, Section 30 of the Florida Constitution. This constitutional provision, commonly known as Amendment 3, prohibits the expansion of casino gambling without voter approval through a referendum. Notably, No Casinos played a pivotal role in drafting Amendment 3.
The central question at stake is whether the constitutional definition of “casino gambling” extends to the broadening of sports betting across the state through the Seminoles’ gaming compact. No Casinos contends that the legal argument supporting the compact, particularly the “hub-and-spoke” model where bets off Indian land are processed through tribal servers, is flawed and designed to manipulate outcomes.
The lobbying organization asserts that such an argument is not only transparently false but also disrespects the principles laid out in the Florida Constitution. Furthermore, No Casinos emphasizes that this approach is disrespectful to the voters who overwhelmingly supported Amendment 3 in 2018.
Initially seeking permission to submit a late amicus brief, No Casinos underscored its unique role in the creation of Amendment 3. An amicus curae brief is a written submission by a party not directly involved in the ongoing case.
Responding to the brief, legal representatives for Governor DeSantis did not object to its submission. However, they insisted on supporting an extension only if similar concessions were granted to respondents. The court ultimately granted the motion along with the requested time extension.
Legal experts are closely monitoring the case and have highlighted potential challenges in contesting the compact in state courts. Key issues include establishing legal standing, demonstrating harm incurred by the plaintiff, and determining whether the Seminole Tribe should be considered a necessary party. If the Seminoles are deemed essential, the matter might need to be adjudicated in tribal, rather than state courts, given the tribe’s sovereign status.
Additionally, the wording of Amendment 3 itself poses a potential obstacle, as its definition of casino gambling and specific exemption for Indian gaming could influence the court’s interpretation. The outcome of this legal skirmish could have far-reaching implications for the future of sports betting in Florida and beyond.