TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In as little as a few weeks, Floridians could find out whether or not online sports betting will be legal.
The legal saga is two-fold, meaning lawsuits are filed at the state and federal levels. Those lawsuits were filed by West Flagler Associates, owners of the Bonita Springs Poker Room.
"This is the battleground of the future of sports wager in Florida," said Daniel Wallach, attorney who specializes in sports gambling.
He says West Flagler claims an online sports bet off Seminole tribal land breaks state and federal laws. It also has a lawsuit against the governor.
"West Flagler’s Florida Supreme Court lawsuit argues Gov. DeSantis and the state legislature exceeded their constitutionally delegated powers," Wallach said.
This means they allegedly allowed online sports betting to happen without voter approval.
The Florida Supreme Court has requested that Gov. DeSantis file a response brief by November 1 and West Flagler has 20 days to respond.
At the federal level, West Flagler is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case shot down by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals.
"West Flagler has indicated that it will be seeking an emergency stay before the United States Supreme Court," Wallach said.
The decisions are make or break. Wallach says if West Flagler wins one case, there's no online sports betting in Florida.
"The truth is the court system will determine whether online sports betting ever begins," he said.
Keep in mind, sports betting is still allowed by the Seminole Tribe for the next 30 years under the state compact, but only on their land.
"One way or another there will be closure at some point, but we’re likely a few months away," Wallach said.
One reason for the push for online sports betting, Wallach says, comes down to convenience.
According to Statista, there were about 19 million online sports bettors in 2022. In 2023, that number is expected to rise to 23.1 million.