Court Ruling On Florida Compact Could Impact Sports Betting In California

April 19, 2023
Back
Legal experts predict that sports-betting ballot initiatives are likely to be resurrected in California, with the future of Indian gaming to be significantly influenced by a pending decision from a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. regarding a gambling compact between the Seminole Tribe and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Body

Legal experts predict that sports-betting ballot initiatives are likely to be resurrected in California, with the future of Indian gaming to be significantly influenced by a pending decision from a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. regarding a gambling compact between the Seminole Tribe and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

“If we were betting on [California sports-betting propositions in 2024], we would say those conversations are probably happening in some way and might be a sensible route,” Steven Light, a political science professor at the University of North Dakota, said during a webinar on Tuesday (April 18) sponsored by the International Center for Gaming Regulation at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Light’s optimism regarding California is surprising because there does not appear to be much, if any, appetite among California gaming tribes or commercial sports-betting operators to repeat the nightmare of 2022, when two wagering propositions were overwhelmingly rejected after record-setting campaigns costing more than $500m.

Moreover, the bitter feelings created by last year’s sports-betting election in California seem to still be festering between tribal and commercial operators such as DraftKings and FanDuel.

Light cited Arizona as an example where competing gaming interests eventually cobbled together a deal and established a lucrative sports-betting market.

“It’s not that there weren’t contentious conversations and differences of opinion among the various interests and what the scope of tribal sports wagering and commercial wagering would look like in Arizona,” Light said.

“The key was that there was a general sense of common purpose and a common goal.”

The future of tribal sports betting in California and other states could hinge on a ruling later this year by a three-judge panel on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C.

If the court upholds the gambling compact in Florida that allowed the Seminoles to accept online bets from all over the Sunshine State, other tribes across the country are expected to seek similar agreements in their states.

Just this month, the Kansas House and Senate passed a bill to amend the state's 2022 sports wagering law to remove provisions that would prevent state-wide mobile betting in tribal gaming compacts.

A ruling for the Seminoles also would be consistent with regulations proposed late last year for Indian gaming compacts by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Despite pushback from commercial gaming interests, the BIA does not plan to extend the March 1 deadline for comments on the proposed regulations which are expected to become effective before the end of the year, according to sources.

Whenever the regulations are finalized, lawsuits are expected to follow against the BIA.

“I think that the most significant change would be that the proposed regulations specifically authorize what Florida and the Seminole Tribe have attempted to do,” said Kathryn Rand, a law professor at the University of North Dakota who also appeared on Tuesday’s UNLV webinar.

“So [the proposed regulations would allow] a state to agree to state-wide mobile wagering through the compact.”

But Rand said it is important to remember that the Florida compact included just one tribe, the Seminoles.

“California is very, very different in terms of its market,” Rand said.

For example, California has gambling compacts with 76 tribes. A coalition of several California tribes, led by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, previously proposed a ballot initiative under a model similar to the Seminole compact, but it remains unclear whether that effort will be resumed pending a favorable outcome in the D.C. Court of Appeals or adoption of the new federal rules.

Light said any change in federal regulations regarding tribal gaming compacts would be helpful if it clarifies questions about the online gaming market for tribes in California.

Rand and Light are co-directors of the Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law & Policy at the University of North Dakota.

Our premium content is available to users of our services.

To view articles, please Log-in to your account, or sign up today for full access:

Opt in to hear about webinars, events, industry and product news

To find out more about Vixio, contact us today
No items found.