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Seminoles Could Consider Florida Online Gaming

While Florida’s Seminole tribe continues facing obstacles to offering online sports betting in the Sunshine State, the group could be considering eventually expanding into other forms of online gaming.

Once the sports betting and the state’s gaming compact is settled, the tribe may look at adding online casino gaming as well. That could mean further discussion with state leaders, however.

“I think that if the case was resolved in our favor, we would then have to reinitiate conversations with the governor’s office, the House and the Senate,” Hard Rock International and Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen recently told PlayUSA. “And then that becomes a political process that we would navigate through. Certainly, the polling suggests that the citizens of the state of Florida would like to have it, but you have to go through the process.”

Hurdles Remain

The state’s compact with the Seminoles doesn’t currently allow for online gaming beyond sports betting but does include language that the two sides could enter into negotiations regarding the issue. That could occur “within 36 months after the effective date of this Compact to consider an amendment to authorize the Tribe to offer all types of covered games online or via mobile devices to players physically located in the state.”

While other states have recently seen growth in regards to online poker, Florida has generally not been included as a possible state to legalize. With more than 22 million people, Florida could become the largest legalized online poker state in the country, if the Seminoles include the game in their offerings.

Clearing the current sports betting hurdle is the goal right now for the tribe. The Seminoles have been squaring off in court for two years with Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room (known as West Flagler Associates).

West Flagler argues that online sports betting is in violation of a state ban on expanded gambling approved by voters in 2018. The group is fighting the effort in state court on that front and a move toward online casino gaming could bring similar opposition.

The plaintiffs are also appealing the issue to the Supreme Court at the federal level, arguing that Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland lacked authority to originally approve the compact because it allowed for gaming off traditional Indian lands by betting online anywhere in the state. West Flagler Associated have also said the compact violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.