Seminole Gambling Compact Ends, Florida Asks Tribe to Shut Down Table Games

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing tension between the Florida legislature and the Seminole Tribe as they have failed to renegotiate a renewal of the long standing gambling compact. The compact allows the Seminoles to offer table games exclusively at their tribal casinos in exchance for monetary compensation to the state. The deadline for renewal was set for the end of the month and they were unable to reach a deal. As part of the agreement, the Seminole tribe is supposed to stop dealing the table games. The legislature has reached out to find out when they plan to stop. The Orlando Sentinel reports: 

A deal authorizing blackjack and other types of card games at casinos such as the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa expires on Friday.

The state’s top gambling regulator wrote a letter to the tribe chairman Monday asking for a meeting where tribal leaders are expected to give state officials a timeline for closing down blackjack tables.

Ken Lawson, the secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, pointed out that the existing compact requires the tribe to close its blackjack tables within 90 days if legislators do not renew the provision. A proposal to extend the games for one year was considered but did not pass the Florida Legislature.

With no new negotiations moving forward, the deal appears to be heading to court. The Seminole Tribe believes the State violated the compact thereby allowing them to continue to offer table games, albeit not exclusively. The Orlando Sentinel continues: 

Last month, Tribal Council Chairman James Billie wrote a letter to state officials asserting the casinos could keep the card games in place beyond the expiration date because Florida regulators violated the gambling agreement by allowing South Florida race tracks to offer electronic versions of card games.

That letter called for state and tribal officials to meet in the next 30 days to try to resolve the dispute. Both sides met in mid-July but no agreement was reached. The next steps are likely a formal mediation session followed then the two sides squaring off in federal court The tribe, however, said it would continue to make payments to the state for the card games as a “gesture of good faith.”

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