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Judge blocks Seminole compact

Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a deal with the Seminole Tribe as tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr....
Gov. Ron DeSantis signs a deal with the Seminole Tribe as tribe Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. looks on. The 30-year gambling “compact” would allow sports betting.(News Service of Florida)
Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 3:46 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - A Federal judge has thrown out the state’s gambling deal with the Seminole Indians.

The compact, signed in April, included sports betting, which is what undid the agreement, because it wasn’t already legal in Florida.

The 25-page opinion was strongly worded.

Under the compact signed this past April, sports bets could be placed on a phone from anywhere and deemed legal as long as the servers were on tribal lands.

The court wrote that it “cannot accept that fiction”.

“You know, elections have consequences,” said John Sowinski, founder of No Casinos Inc.

Sowinski, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said the so called ‘hub and spoke’ design was a deception.

“And in 2018, Florida voters went to the polls and, by a margin of almost 72%, locked the key on more gambling in our state and kept it in their own hands,” said Sowninski.

In a one-sentence statement, the Seminole Tribe said it was reviewing the judge’s order and carefully considering its next step.

The governor, speaking in Broward early in the day, had not yet been briefed when asked by a reporter.

He expects an appeal.

“We also knew when you do hub and spoke, it was unsettled legal issue,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.

While the compact contains severability language that would have kept other provisions of the compact alive, the judge noted the Department of Interior didn’t ask for it, so she killed the whole deal.

“The problem is the Biden administration didn’t tell the judge that, so the judge said if you’re not going to ask me to make it severable, then I’m not. And Joe Biden owns that,” said State Representative Randy Fine.

In a later statement, the Governor’s Office called the ruling ‘perplexing’ and added, “It is unclear what if any immediate impact the ruling has in Florida”.

And since neither the state nor the tribe are parties to the suit, it is unclear who would appeal

The judge ordered the Seminole Tribe to operate under the previous 2010 compact, which the state had violated by allowing parimutuels to operate so called designated player games.

The tribe stopped paying the state $350 million a year two years ago because of the violation.

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