Havenick family contests Seminole Tribe's online sports betting agreement with DeSantis administration
The Bonita Springs Poker Room proprietors, representing the Havenick family and former owners of Miami's Magic City Casino, have raised a legal offensive at Florida's Supreme Court. Their aim is to derail the recently established online sports betting collaboration between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the DeSantis administration. Asserting that the privilege to greenlight this multibillion-dollar enterprise rests with the voters, not lawmakers, this move marks a significant challenge to the unfolding landscape of gambling in the state.
Florida Supreme Court sports betting battle
In their petition lodged with the state's Supreme Court, the Havenick family contends that decisions regarding off-reservation gambling must be sanctioned by the voters themselves. They assert that Governor DeSantis overstepped his authority by settling a compact with the Seminole Tribe, granting them exclusive rights to statewide in-person and online sports betting. The Havenicks argue that such a move necessitates validation through voter consent, as stipulated by Amendment 3, a referendum passed in 2018, requiring public approval for any expansion of casino gambling in Florida.
Additionally, the poker room operators, alongside West Flagler Associates, highlight the alleged violation of the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. They contest that the Seminole Tribe's expansion of sports betting and table games violates the federal law that governs tribal gaming across the nation.
Debate over Amendment 3
Amidst this legal skirmish, proponents of the pact, including DeSantis and legislative figures like Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and Florida House Speaker Paul Renner, state that online sports betting does not fall under the domain of "casino gambling" as defined by the state constitution. The defendants argue that Amendment 3's citizen-initiative requirement doesn't apply to sports betting as it differs from the conventional games found in casinos.
The Seminole Tribe, a key player in this contentious issue, expressed its intent to review the filing, marking a pivotal moment in this ongoing legal tussle.
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News Source: Miami Herald