Published: August 19, 2023

Court Motion Puts Florida Sports Betting By NFL Season In Doubt

The DC Circuit US Court of Appeals signaled that it might take longer than expected to determine whether to rehear a case challenging the Seminole Tribe’s compact with the state of Florida.

A prolonged deliberation can potentially push back the Florida sports betting relaunch past the Sept. 7 start of the NFL season.

The DC Circuit ordered the Seminole Tribe to file a response to West Flagler’s petition for rehearing en banc. West Flagler filed the petition Monday at the deadline to request a rehearing.

Involving Seminoles in rehearing request unexpected

The en banc petition means the plaintiffs asked the DC Circuit to rehear the case before all 11 judges. A three-judge panel ruled on the case in June, overruling a District Court decision invalidating the Seminole compact.

But the DC Circuit very rarely rehears cases and hasn’t done so in two years. A unanimous 3-0 panel decision isn’t likely to be reheard. Six of the other eight judges in the circuit would have to see merit to grant a rehearing.

Florida gaming attorney Daniel Wallach told PlayUSA this week that he expected a swift denial on the rehearing request. And that the DC Circuit likely wouldn’t need any input from the Department of the Interior or the Seminoles to reach that decision.

But the DC Circuit ordered Aug. 16 that the Seminoles file a response to the petition for rehearing en banc within 15 days. The response may not exceed 3,900 words. The court notes it will not accept a reply to the response from West Flagler unless otherwise ordered in the future.

Wallach tweeted his reaction to the order:

“In most cases, the court just denies the petition for rehearing without requesting a response. The fact that they ordered a response — on their own motion, no less — adds some further intrigue. But I still expect rehearing to be denied.”

What this means for Florida sports betting relaunch

It’s hard to say what this does to the Florida sports betting relaunch timeline because of several unknown factors.

  • The Seminoles have until Aug. 31 to respond to the request for a rehearing. But they could be prepared to respond sooner.
  • Once the Seminoles respond, it’s unclear if the DC Circuit will make a quick ruling or ask for more information.
  • The tribe could conceivably opt to relaunch Florida sports betting before the decision on rehearing.

But it makes it less likely that the Hard Rock Bet app will take NFL wagers by the start of the season.

The DC Circuit has said it will not issue its mandate to finalize the appeal decision until seven days after denying the request for rehearing.

If the Seminoles don’t submit until around the Aug. 31 deadline, that’s already coming right up on the Sept. 7 start of NFL games.

But the tribe also is not under order to wait on the mandate before beginning to take sports bets. It’s just a matter of how much the tribe wants to test the court.

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