Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing dealings of the exclusive gambling compact between Florida State and the Seminole Tribe. The compact granted the Seminoles exclusivity of table games in exchange for direct monetary compensation to the state. This limited table games like blackjack to their casinos, despite other state approved gambling venues existing and often expanding over the years. The case at hand involves the allowance of table games at various pari-mutuel locations since 2011. The South Florida Reporter explains:
The state of Florida’s misplay of allowing “designated player” games at racetrack card rooms has turned out to be quite fortuitous for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, but it also might provide the spark needed to goose along a long-term gambling deal statewide.
A U.S. judge ruled on Wednesday that that state violated terms of its deal with the Seminoles, which allowed the tribe exclusive rights to blackjack and other table games.
Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that when racetrack card rooms started their versions of Ultimate Texas Hold ‘em, 3-Card Poker and Texas Hold ‘em, 3-Card Poker those games cut into the $250 million annual monopoly the tribe negotiated with the state. The state has permitted banked card games since 2011, and formally approved them in 2014, Hinkle wrote.
When the compact was originally signed in 2010, the blackjack portion was for only five years. It expired in July 2015, and the Seminoles have filed suit saying the state has not negotiated in good faith.
The judges ruling viewed those card games as a direct violation of the agreement and he is allowing them to continue providing those games until 2030. An appeal of the ruling doesn’t seem likely. The South Florida Reporter continues:
“The order declares that the exception has been triggered — that the tribe may conduct banked card games for the compact’s 20-year term,” Hinkle wrote. For those lacking a calendar, that means blackjack until 2030.
Hinkle called the games, in which a player stands in for the bank, an “egregious example of the cardrooms’ attempt to evade the prohibition on banked card games.” They are offered in about half of Florida’s card rooms and take in an estimated $15 million of the state’s $147 million annual poker revenues.
Don’t look for an appeal. Hinkle’s ruling was carefully worded, and covered every point. It was almost as though he were trying to write an appeal-proof ruling, although state officials say they are reviewing it.
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