©2023 The News Service of Florida. All rights reserved; see terms.

The group No Casinos, which led efforts to pass a 2018 ballot initiative to make it harder to expand gambling in Florida, urged the state Supreme Court late Monday to reject a plan that would allow the Seminole Tribe to offer sports betting throughout the state.

No Casinos received the court’s approval last week to file a friend-of-the-court brief in support of a challenge by the pari-mutuel companies West Flagler Associates and Bonita-Fort Myers Corp. to the sports-betting plan. Gov, Ron DeSantis and the Legislature in 2021 approved a gambling deal, known as a compact, with the tribe that included a “hub-and-spoke” plan to allow the Seminoles to accept sports wagers from mobile devices anywhere in the state, with the bets run through servers on tribal land. The deal said bets “using a mobile app or other electronic device, shall be deemed to be exclusively conducted by the tribe.”

But in the brief Monday, No Casinos said the plan was designed to get around the 2018 constitutional amendment, which required voter authorization of casino gambling.

“Allowing mobile sports betting throughout the state, based on a legal fiction that tribal servers render the entire state to be Indian land for mobile gambling purposes, undermines this state’s public policy, as expressed in [the constitutional amendment] to disallow such gambling in Florida absent approval by citizen initiative,” the brief said. “This court should act to preclude the unconstitutional compact and its implementing statutes from taking effect. Until and unless the voters authorize statewide sports betting, this court has the discretionary power and, we think, the duty to invalidate the respondents’ (DeSantis and legislative leaders) actions in approving the sports betting provisions of the compact and in passing implementing statutes.”

Return to Oct. 17 issue of Wire to Wire