Seminole Gambling Compact Moves Toward Arbitration as Pressure Increases from Other Tribes to Enter Their Own Compact with Florida

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing negotiations to pass a new gambling compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole tribe. This compact has set up exclusive rights to table games at their tribal casinos, and de facto exclusive rights to tribal gaming in the state. The negotiations stalled during the legislative session and a special negotiation period resumed when the compact ended and the State asked the Seminole tribes to stop offering table games in their casinos. As reported earlierit looked like negotiations were progressing as expected, then an unexpected gambling expansion twist emerged as the tribe was looking to add to the number of casinos in the state as well as expand into other games such as roulette and craps. Prior to these renewed negotiations, the tribe asked for mediation and the state has been working to set up the arbitration. The Orlando Sentinel explains:

The tribe formally requested mediation last month after negotiations over the card games, part of a $1 billion, five-year deal, stalled this spring.

While those talks appear to be back on track, the state has agreed to the Seminoles’ request, and both sides have settled on a mediator, according to documents provided by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees gambling in the state.

“We have not formally responded to the merits of the request for mediation; however, we have been in contact with them regarding the selection of a mediator and working toward mediation dates and location,” department spokeswoman Chelsea Eagle said in an email Tuesday.

Added pressure to reach to an agreement comes from the interest of other tribes to establish a casino in Florida. Another party setting up shop would not only take from the Seminoles hopes of expanding their own casinos, but also provide a reason to the state to shy away from only allowing the Seminoles to offer table games. The Saint Peters Blog explains:

Last March, the Poarch sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott, asking to enter into an agreement, or “gaming compact,” for the tribe to offer gambling at a casino it wants to build on land it has outside Pensacola. The Poarch also operate and are majority owners of the *Pensacola Greyhound Track, records show. If granted, the Poarch could be competitors to the *Seminole Tribe of Florida, which now has the only gaming compact in Florida.

And the state’s Miccosukee Tribe could seek a compact for Las Vegas-style gambling. It offers bingo, slots and poker at its Miami resort, but not blackjack. Though Indian gambling is ultimately controlled by federal law, tribes can negotiate compacts with states for exclusive rights to offer games in return for payments.

Its an always changing gambling landscape in Florida, but the best outcome for Florida families is limiting gambling expansion buy keeping the current number of tribal casinos set as is and by keeping additional games like craps and roulettes out of those casinos.

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