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US – Miami’s Magic City Casino challenges Seminole’s sports betting compact

By - 6 July 2021

With sports betting about to be rolled out with the Seminole Tribe in Florida under a new gaming compact, the owners of a Miami Casino has filed a law suit with the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida which says Southwest Parimutuels stands to ‘lose millions in revenue.’

Southwest Parimutuels, owners of Miami’s Magic City Casino and the Bonita Springs Poker Room, claim Florida’s new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe violates the federal Indian Regulatory Gaming Act (IRGA) and the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) as it would allow sports betting away from tribal lands.

Isadore Havenick, Vice President for public affairs for Southwest Parimutuels, said: “While we are fully supportive of Gov. DeSantis and his work to secure a new Seminole Compact, the lawsuit focuses on a very narrow aspect of the Compact — the legality of off reservation and online sports wagering.”

The compact states that online sports betting could be conducted away from tribal gland as long as the premise to carry out the bets is located on tribal lands. It would allow sports betting at six of the Tribe’s reservations but also allows Florida’s existing racetracks to host mobile apps as partners of the tribe with revenues split 60/40 in favour of the partnering operator.

The lawsuit argues: “Contrary to the legal fiction created by the 2021 Compact and Implementing Law, a bet is placed both where the bettor and the casino are each located. Deeming’ the bet to have been placed on Indian lands because the servers are located there contradicts decades of well-established precedent interpreting applicable federal law. [The compact] is an effort to circumvent this clear prohibition in the state Constitution by allowing for a person sitting on her poolside lounge chair or his couch at home placing a sports bet through the tribe is ‘deemed’ not to be placing a bet that is otherwise illegal in the state.”

“This is nothing more than a legal fiction belied by the fact that sports betting is still taking place outside the tribe’s reservations in a state where sports betting remains illegal,” it added.

Gary Bitner, spokesperson for Seminole Gaming, said: “The Gaming Compact fully complies with the law and is supported by Floridians 3-1. It guarantees $2.5bn in revenue sharing in its first five years, the largest commitment by any gaming company in US history.”

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