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Supreme Court lifts temporary hold on Florida online sports betting

The U.S. Supreme Court recently lifted a temporary stay that had been granted on a federal appeals court ruling. (Courtesy image)

Soon after the Seminole Tribe signed a historic gaming compact with the state in 2021 for control of online sports betting in Florida, the issue has been on a rollercoaster ride through the courts. The ride’s latest loop in October involved the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Oct. 25 the Supreme Court decided to lift a temporary stay that had been granted on a federal appeals-court ruling. The hold had been placed by Chief Justice John Roberts on Oct. 12.

The U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Sept. 11 had denied a request from pari-mutuels West Flagler Associates and Fort Myers Corp. (a corporation doing business as Bonita Springs Poker Room) to reconsider a ruling by a three-judge panel that found the tribe’s control over mobile sports betting did not violate the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The three-judge panel on June 30 had unanimously reversed a November 2021 decision by a federal judge that halted the provisions of the 30-year gaming compact, which had been signed just months earlier on April 23, 2021. The compact’s opponents had challenged the June 30 decision and asked the full appeals court for a rehearing, known as an “en banc” hearing, but the court rejected the request.

The pari-mutuels then asked the Supreme Court on Oct. 6 for a stay while it prepared to file a petition seeking review of the appeals-court ruling. Roberts issued the order that put the ruling on hold, but justices later vacated Roberts’ order and denied the requested stay, according to a court docket that did not include an explanation.

“The denial of the stay by the U.S. Supreme Court is very good news,” tribal spokesperson Gary Bitner, said in a written statement Oct. 25. “The Seminole Tribe of Florida is heartened by this decision.”

Bitner didn’t comment on whether the development means mobile sports betting would now move forward through the tribe’s app called Hard Rock Bet, which was in operation briefly in 2021. (The Seminole Tribe is the parent entity of Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming).

Meanwhile, the pari-mutuels also filed a lawsuit at the Florida Supreme Court, arguing that the sports-betting plan violates a 2018 state constitutional amendment that requires voter approval of gambling expansion. That case was still pending at press time.

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at