TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – The Seminole tribe of Florida filed an appeal on Tuesday against a federal judge’s decision to block their deal with the state to expand online gambling and sports betting throughout Florida .

In a ruling on Monday night, U.S. District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich ruled that the multibillion-dollar state-tribe agreement to allow online betting violates a federal rule that requires a person to stand. physically found on tribal land when she bets. The lawsuit, filed by non-Indian casino owners in Florida, challenged approval of the deal by the US Department of the Interior, which oversees tribal gambling operations.

The state and tribe had argued that because the computer servers handling the bets would be located on tribal lands, bettors could bet from their phones or kiosks at non-Indian racetracks and casinos anywhere in the world. state and meet the federal standard.

Judge Friedrich, in his ruling, called it “fiction”, writing “When a federal law permits activity only in specific places, the parties cannot escape this limitation by” considering “that their activity takes place where, in fact, does not. “

The tribe had started taking bets on November 1, making Florida for a time the last state to legalize sports betting since a 2018 Supreme Court ruling. It lifted a federal ban on such outside betting. of Nevada and a few other states. Today, about half of the states and the District of Columbia have legalized sports betting in one form or another.

The judge, who was appointed to the District of Columbia Circuit Court in 2017 by former President Donald Trump, also noted that a 2018 state constitutional amendment passed overwhelmingly by voters requires that any expansion of the game outside of tribal lands must be approved by the voters.

The judge’s ruling also prevents the tribe from adding roulette and craps to their Florida casinos, which may have allowed non-Indian casinos to do the same.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis crafted the pact with the tribe earlier this year and the GOP-controlled legislature approved it soon after, with the state potentially receiving $ 20 billion over the next 30 years.

Critics of the deal applauded its rejection, arguing that the pact also violates a constitutional requirement that prevents the expansion of gambling outside of tribal lands without voter approval. Miami billionaire Norman Braman, who has fought a years-long battle against the expansion of gambling in Florida, called the move “a great victory for our community and our state.”

He said the ultimate goal of the pact was not just to allow sports betting, but to allow casinos to open in Miami Beach, downtown Miami, at Trump’s Golf Resort near Miami. and elsewhere throughout the state. He said it would hurt the state’s quality of life, increase crime and turn some of its cities into another Las Vegas.

“That’s not what the state of Florida is,” Braman said. “We are growing up here. People come here to our state and our community. We are developing a high-tech industry here. The casino game and an extension of the game are not the raison d’être of this community. “


Spencer reported from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.