Seminoles Sue Florida over Gambling Compact Fiasco

Seminole Tribe of FloridaThe Seminole Tribe of Florida has filed a lawsuit against the state for failing to resolve the long-running dispute over the renewal of its gambling compact.

Following Tuesday´s news that the California Gambling Control Commission [geolink href=””]misrepresented the number of tribal gaming licenses[/geolink] that were available, further evidence of how tribal communities and state gaming regulators just cannot get along right now came to light earlier this week when it was revealed that the Seminole Tribe has taken legal action to prevent the closure of banked table games at seven Florida casinos.

The legal action is considered necessary due to the expiration of a gambling compact in July. The Seminole Tribe were given a 90-day grace period to resolve the dispute over a new contract or remove table games from its facilities. That grace period expired last night with neither party able to agree to proposals and with banked table games still being played in the tribe´s casinos.

What is the Seminole Dispute About?

Back in 2010, the Seminole Tribe signed an agreement to pay the state of Florida $1 billion over a five-year period in return for a virtually exclusive contract to provide banked card games at its seven venues. The Seminole Tribe want to retain their exclusive deal, but do not want to pay the $3 billion (over seven years) that is being demanded by the State.

The state appear to be in a fairly strong position. Even though the Las Vegas Sands has given up on opening a mega-casino in southern Florida, there are plenty of opportunists who would be willing to step in and fill the void if the Seminole Tribe were to lose their exclusive facility to offer games such as blackjack, roulette and craps.

The “official” state line has been repeated over and over again by Governor Rick Scott, who – after a Florida Cabinet meeting earlier this week – once again told reporters I´m going to take the right amount of time to make sure I take care of all the taxpayers. I want to take care of our state. I want to make the best deal I can.

The Implications of the Lawsuit

The Seminole Tribe complain that the state has not been acting in “good faith” and have taken legal action to prevent Florida´s law enforcers from forcibly closing the table games at the casinos. A spokesperson for the tribe said that it had to bring the matter to court to safeguard the jobs of 3,100 people employed at the seven casinos as well as the interests of their families.

We´ll end up in court, the court will hold a hearing and whatever´s decided, both sides will abide by the tribe´s counsel Barry Richards told reporters. Until that´s decided, the state really can´t do anything he continued, although he later revealed that talks are still continuing between state officials and representatives of the tribe.

No date has been set for an initial hearing and, even if a swift resolution is found to the compact dispute, any agreement will have to be approved by the state Legislature. Effectively, it could be many months until the dispute could be settled and – in theory – it could still go either way.

Jacqueline Packett
Jacqueline Packett