A Florida judge on Wednesday morning denied an emergency restraining order against Seminole-backed entities that the Las Vegas Sands Corp. claims are coercing signature gatherers in their effort to get a gaming initiative on the November 2022 ballot. The judge scheduled a hearing on a motion to dismiss the case for Friday, and if she doesn’t dismiss the case, a full hearing will be held on Tuesday.
A lawyer for the plaintiffs, which include the Sands-backed Florida Voters in Charge, asked on Wednesday for a temporary injunction, saying, “Every day that goes by there is interference, there is irreparable harm to my clients. We thought that by filing this lawsuit … it would stop some of the activities, like paying people to leave the state, and I would be remiss in not asking the court for a temporary order to stop this until at least Friday.”
Judge Angela Dempsey denied the request.
Multiple reports of tampering
Dating to early fall, there have been reports, both in a Florida university newspaper and reported by Politico, that the Seminoles are trying to impede the gathering of signatures for gaming-related ballot proposals. Among the allegations are that the companies working with the tribe are paying signature gatherers to not do work in Florida and are harassing other signature gatherers and those who would sign petitions.
Las Vegas Sands is currently gathering signatures to get a gaming initiative that would allow it to build a casino, while a group of commercial operators headed by DraftKings and FanDuel is running a campaign to get an initiative on the ballot that would allow mobile sports betting offered by both the Seminoles and commercial operators throughout the state.
As things stand now, there is no legal sports betting in Florida after the Seminole Tribe took down its Hard Rock digital platform on Saturday following a U.S. appellate court decision. The Sands lawsuit is the fourth related to gaming since Florida’s legislature signed off on a tribal-state compact in May.
That compact gave the Seminoles a monopoly on legal wagering by deeming that any bet placed anywhere in the state would be considered to be placed on tribal lands if it flows through a Seminole server. A U.S. District Court judge vacated that compact just before Thanksgiving, and the appellate court on Friday denied an appeal for a stay from the Seminoles to continue to offer wagering.