The Seminole Tribe of Florida has
scored another legal victory against the state of Florida over a
gambling agreement made in 2010.
A federal judge refused a request
from Gov. Rick Scott seeking reconsideration of a court ruling that
said the state violated its deal with the tribe, according to the
News Service of Florida.
The compact between the Seminoles and the state gave the tribe
exclusive rights dealing with banked card games like blackjack and
baccarat over a five-year period in exchange for paying the state $1
billion, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.
The five-year deal
expired in 2015, but it was part of a larger 20-year agreement with
the state, according to the News Service of Florida. In 2011, the
state of Florida allowed pari-mutuels to offer “designated player”
card games, which the tribe claimed violated their 2010 agreement and
the judge on the case, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle sided with
the tribe, saying the “designated player” games “triggered an
exception to the five-year agreement,” according to the News
Service of Florida.
Hinkle ordered that the tribe could continue to conduct banked
games for the duration of the 20-year compact, according to the News
Service of Florida. The Tallahassee Democrat also reported that his
ruling “enacted the penalty clause in the compact for violating the
tribe’s exclusivity, putting hundreds of millions of dollars a year
from play of these games flowing into the state budget into
The Department of Pari-Mutuel Wagering annual
report for fiscal year 2014-2015 showed the state only made $14.3
million in revenue from all its licensed card games, which is much
less than the $234 million the Seminole Tribe made as a minimum
payment around that same time, the Democrat reported.
When asked for comment on the latest developments in this case,
the Seminole Tribe of Florida referred all questions to Gary Bitner,
president of the Bitner Group.
“The Seminole Tribe of Florida is very pleased with Judge
Hinkle’s ruling and is further pleased that Judge Hinkle reaffirmed
the ruling in response to the State’s motion to alter it,” Bitner
told the Florida Record. "The Tribe believes the ruling provides for its future stability and ensure 3,600 Seminole gaming employees will keep their jobs.”
The state and the Seminole Tribe are still trying to negotiate a
revised compact and Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said
getting the compact ratified is a priority too him, according to the
News Service of Florida.
It remains to be seen whether or not the state of Florida will
continue to fight the tribe over the banked games agreement.
“It’s not appropriate for the Tribe to speculate on what
actions the State might or might not take,” Bitner said.
The gaming industry supplies thousands of Native Americans with
jobs in the state of Florida, and Bitner said that relationship
“The Seminole Tribe of Florida supports the work of the American
Gaming Association to encourage fair and appropriate regulation of
the gaming industry,” he said.