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No Casinos submits amicus brief in Florida sports betting case

| By Zak Thomas-Akoo
Florida-based anti-gambling lobbying group No Casinos has submitted an amicus curae brief in the Florida Supreme Court sports betting case, West Flagler vs Ron DeSantis.

In the brief, No Casinos argued Governor DeSantis’ approval of the Seminoles compact with Florida violated “the text, spirit and public policy” behind article X, section 30 of the Florida Constitution.   

This is the provision which bans an expansion of casino gambling without approval from voters in referendum. It is often termed Amendment 3 and was authored by No Casinos,   

Whether the constitution’s text of “casino gambling” applies to the statewide expansion of sports betting through the Seminoles’ gaming compact with Florida is an important question in the case.

The lobbying organisation said that the “hub-and-spoke” legal argument for the compact, in which bets off Indian land were routed through tribal servers, “is so transparently false and outcome driven that it is disrespectful to the Florida Constitution”.

No Casinos added it is also “disrespectful to the voters who spoke unequivocally in favour of Amendment 3 in 2018”.

The anti-gambling group initially had filed a motion to submit a late amicus brief, highlighting its role in drafting amendment. An amicus curae brief is a written submission by a party not involved in a case.

Lawyers representing DeSantis responded to the brief. They argued while they did not object, they would only support an extension if respondents were also granted one. The court granted the motion and the requested time extension.

On iGB’s World Series of Politics, legal expert Jeff Ifrah, managing partner of Ifrah Law, highlighted some issues with challenging the compact in the state courts.

Ifrah outlined the question of legal standing. This means the plaintiff needs to argue why they have been harmed by the action.

He also pointed to whether the Seminole tribe would be considered a necessary party to the court. If so, then as a sovereign tribe the Seminoles would have to be sued in the tribal, not state courts.

Nova Southeastern University professor Bob Jarvis said the wording of Amendment 3 might prove to be an obstacle. In support of this, Jarvis highlighted the amendment’s listed definition of casino gambling. He also pointed to the amendment’s specific exemption to Indian gaming.

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