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The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an emergency appeal seeking to halt a multibillion-dollar deal between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe to provide statewide online sports betting.
As a result of the court’s order, sports betting in Florida may become available soon, though the precise timing is still up in the air due to other pending legal challenges in state courts.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also running for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, pushed for the agreement, or “compact,” which was approved by the US Department of the Interior and is expected to bring in $2.5 billion in new revenue over the next five years and an estimated $6 billion through 2030.
Separately, Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that he respected the court’s action but wondered if the deal might raise new questions under state law. However, he made it clear that state law concerns were not “squarely presented” in the ongoing application filed by other gambling companies.
The court’s short order may encourage other jurisdictions, such as states and tribes, to negotiate similar agreements, CNN reported.
In 2018, Floridians voted yes on a referendum to amend the state’s constitution, making it so that the state legislature can no longer legalize casinos without first putting the issue to a public vote.
However, gambling and other forms of gaming that were excluded by a compact between tribes and the state and were approved by the federal government were specifically excluded by the 2018 referendum.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida signed an agreement with the state of Florida in 2021, allowing the tribe to offer online sports betting across the state so long as the servers accepting wagers were located on tribal ground, as per the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
DeSantis signed the law ratifying the agreement between the two parties the following month. When the Interior Department did not object to the transaction, it was treated as if it had been officially approved.
However, other gambling establishments sued, claiming the compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) because it restricted gambling to tribal lands. They sued the Interior Department on the grounds that the compact should never have been approved.
The federal appeals court in Washington, DC, reversed the decision of a district court to block the compact. The Secretary of the Interior did not exceed her authority in approving the agreement, according to the Court of Appeals.
In a separate decision that many conservatives will likely applaud, the Supreme Court agreed to hear a case that will decide just how far the U.S. government can go in forcing social media companies to censor or suppress certain information.
The GOP attorneys general in Missouri and Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration in which they sought to restrict the federal government’s ability to pressure social media platforms like Facebook, X, and YouTube to stifle particular information without actually ordering them to do so.
The high court announced that it had issued a writ of certiorari in the case. Both states have argued that would amount to an obvious First Amendment violation against freedom of speech.
Louisiana Solicitor General Liz Murrill praised the high court’s decision in a statement and said she was pleased.
“We are pleased to learn that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear this case, giving us yet another opportunity to defend the people from this assault on our First Amendment rights,” Murrill said. “It brings us one step closer to reestablishing the protections guaranteed to us in the Constitution and under the First Amendment.
“We hope that the Supreme Court will agree that this gross abuse of power must stop and never happen again,” she added in her statement.