FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A federal district judge Wednesday night rejected the Seminole Tribe’s request for a stay of a Monday ruling that invalidates the agreement between the tribe and the State of Florida, meaning the Seminoles, for now, don’t have the legal right to operate online sports gambling.

However, as of Thursday morning the Hard Rock Sportsbook app was still accepting bets and operating fully. The app began accepting bets Nov. 1, and grants the Seminoles a monopoly on sports betting in Florida.

In asking for the stay, lawyers for the Seminoles had argued the tribe would “lose substantial revenue” from online sports betting, money which was they said would be used, in part, to fund tribe programs.

Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected that argument, saying the tribe hadn’t shown that it would be irreparably harmed if a stay were not granted.

The tribe filed a motion for a stay after Friedrich’s Monday ruling, which said the deal between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe violated the Indian Gaming Regulation Act (IGRA) because it allows sports bets to be placed from anywhere in the state instead of solely on Indian land.

The Seminoles maintain that the computer servers taking the bets are located on Indian land, and that should suffice.

Friedrich called that “fiction” in her order Monday.

Friedrich said a new agreement could be reached between the Seminole tribe and Florida. However, any new agreement couldn’t grant the Seminoles online sports betting, only in-person sports betting.

The ability to accept online bets as opposed to being limited to in-person bets greatly enhances the earning potential.

Friedrich’s order reinstates the 2010 agreement, or compact, between the state and Seminoles. That agreement didn’t allow for sports gambling or craps and roulette, which are also part of the new agreement. Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner said craps and roulette never started.

The next step for the Seminole Tribe is filing another motion for a stay, but this time with the D.C Circuit Court of Appeals.

Daniel Wallach, a nationally recognized gaming industry analyst who has a law practice based in Hallandale Beach, said once the Seminoles file their appeal, the two groups opposing the sports betting deal — West Flagler Associates and No Casinos — could be given a couple of days to respond to the Seminoles’ appeal. After that, the Seminoles could be given a couple of days to re-respond.

He said it’s possible that a ruling on the appeal could be expedited and could come in early December.

“If I’m in the position of West Flagler or No Casinos,” Wallach said, “I ask judge Friedrich to enter a supplemental order imposing an injunction requiring the Seminole Tribe and all entities acting in concert with the tribe, to shut down online sports betting immediately.”

With the motion for a stay denied, the Seminoles now look to the Circuit Court of Appeals to have sports gambling reinstated. That appeal should be heard sometime in 2022.

Bob Jarvis, a Nova Southeastern University law professor said he’s not surprised the tribe has continued to take online sports bets.

“This has always been the Seminoles’ M.O. [modus operandi],” he said Wednesday. “They fight in court, but they continue to do business as usual.”

Jarvis thinks the deal, which calls for the Seminoles paying Florida $2.5 billion during the first five years, will be approved on appeal.


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