In the latest development of the Florida sports betting case, West Flagler Associates filed its final response in the Florida Supreme Court case. This is the final briefing that the court needs to consider the case at the state level.
West Flagler Delivers Final Response in State-Level Florida Sports Betting Lawsuit
The briefing was filed following Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Dec. 1 response to West Flagler’s initial lawsuit with the state court. In the briefing — filed electronically on Dec. 23 — West Flagler argued four central points:
- Florida’s Amendment 3 mandates voter approval of casino gambling occurring off tribal lands and any casino gambling expansions. The term “casino gambling” includes sports betting and is not considered an Amendment 3 exception
- A writ of quo warranto is appropriate and should be considered by the court (the purpose of writ of quo warranto is to ascertain whether an office holder – in this case, Gov. DeSantis – is constitutionally and legally authorized to hold said office)
- The petition for writ of quo warranto was timely filed and is therefore valid to be considered.
- The tribe is not a necessary party in this case and therefore did not need to be named in its writ of quo warranto. – “The only necessary parties in this case are the Legislature, which enacted the Implementing Law, the Governor, who signed the Compact and Implementing Law, and the People (through Petitioners), whose constitutional power was usurped.”
Timeline For Final Decisions Still Unknown
Now that the final briefing has been filed, the Florida Supreme Court has three options: hear the case, decline the case, or send the case to Leon County Court. There is no deadline for this decision.
Meanwhile, Florida sports betting is the topic of a second lawsuit at the federal level with the U.S. Supreme Court. West Flagler is expected to file officially with the Supreme Court in February 2024.
What Each Side Has Going For Them
Considering all the angles of both Gov. DeSantis’ and West Flagler’s arguments, there are two specific details that could help to push in favor of either side.
In West Flagler’s response, it pointed to and quoted oral arguments over Amendment 3 from 2018, where DeSantis himself referred to sports betting as a part of casino gambling. Per the briefing, “during oral argument on the ballot language, both proponents and opponents raised sports betting as an example of what ‘casino gambling’ captured.”
That said, the justices who make up the Florida Supreme Court may represent a bigger barrier for West Flagler. Five of the seven justices on the current panel were appointed by Gov. DeSantis himself. In the 14 state-level Supreme Court lawsuits that he has faced in his tenure, they have ruled in his favor 14 times.
Compelling brief by West Flagler. If it were in any other court besides the one where Gov. DeSantis appointed 5 out of 7 justices and has never had a writ of quo warranto issued against him (14 cases), I’d feel more optimistic about West Flagler’s chances in state court. https://t.co/dM9SI9Xv9u
— Daniel Wallach (@WALLACHLEGAL) December 26, 2023