TALLAHASSEE — The state of Florida has appealed a U.S. district judge's ruling to continue the Seminole Tribe's exclusive rights to
offer blackjack games in its casinos.
In November, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle issued a ruling in favor of the tribe, saying that the state violated the initial agreement and extended the tribe's exclusive rights to the game until 2030.
This conflict goes back to a
2010 agreement that gave the tribe exclusive access to the game until
addition, the Seminole Tribe was granted a 90-day grace period to
continue to offer the games.
instead of ending the compact at the agreed-upon time, officials
from the tribe argued that the state violated the agreement by
allowing pari-mutuels to provide games that were similar
to the games the Seminoles offered. The
state argued that the designated player games it had allowed were not
blackjack games within the meaning of the compact and therefore did
not trigger the provision that allowed the tribe to
continue offering blackjack.
of the Seminole Tribe's seven casinos are directly affected by the
litigation, including the Seminole
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa and
Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.
is not the first attempt to resolve
this conflict. In 2016, both groups reached an agreement that allowed
to continue offering blackjack exclusively in exchange for providing $3 billion in tax money to the state for seven years. The agreement did not pass in the state legislature.
the state permitted anyone else to offer banked card games it is a
violation of the compact, Judge Hinkle found that the games in
question are in fact banked card games,”
Barry Richard, principal shareholder of Greenberg Traurig, P.A., told the Florida Record.
Richard specializes in
said this was a common ruling for a such a case.
was nothing unusual about the ruling," he said. "Judge Hinkle held a full
non-jury trial. He then interpreted the law and made findings of fact in a very
thorough order that was supported by the evidence. That’s what
Now the state has to follow the court's instructions and renegotiate the contract with the Seminole Tribe, Richard said.
Department of Business and Professional Regulation can order the card
rooms to discontinue offering the banked card games and from there
the state legislature can negotiate a new or amended compact with the
tribe," he said.
state has said that it plans to appeal the judge's
decision but has not yet entered an official request.