TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The drama
continues around who controls the ability to operate banked card
games in the state of Florida.
On Dec. 20, according to a story on
miami.cbslocal.com, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle refused a
request to reconsider his Nov. 9 opinion that held that the rights to
banked games should remain with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, as
they have been since a 2010 compact was signed.
At the beginning
of December, according to news.worldcasinodirectory.com, the Florida
Department of Business and Professional Regulation filed a petition
asking Hinkle to reconsider his November decision on what card games
the Seminole Tribe of Florida had exclusive rights to.
the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state of Florida signed a
compact that gave the tribe exclusive rights to operate slot machines
outside of Broward and Miami-Dade counties for 20 years. In addition,
they were granted a full five years of exclusive rights to so-called
“banked” card games. These are games, such as blackjack, in which
all participants play against a single player — i.e. the house.
2015, when the rights to the banked games were set to expire, the
tribe attempted to renegotiate with the state. They allege that
Florida Gov. Rick Scott was open to a new agreement, but that the
state Legislature failed to act on either their request or the
governor’s recommendation. This prompted a lawsuit by the
“The tribe just wants the compact to be implemented
according to its terms,” Barry Richard, principal shareholder at
Greenberg Traurig LLP and who is working with the tribe, told The
Florida Record. “The tribe would like to work things out
amicably with the state and will continue to try to reach an
agreement going forward, which would necessarily include protection
of the tribe’s exclusivity rights.”
The November ruling, which
prompted this latest legal action, was issued by Hinkle as a result
of that initial lawsuit. The ruling stated that the tribe should
retain exclusive rights on banked card games for the duration of the
“With respect to the structure of the
agreement, in many respects it is typical of state-Indian gaming
compacts, but some terms are by their nature specific to each such
compact,” Richard said. “The Florida-Seminole compact is unique
in that no other compact includes a $1 billion guaranty.”
dollar figure comes from the original compact where the Tribe agreed
to pay the state $1 billion over the term of the 20 years.
December refusal to reconsider, Hinkle wrote: “This case was tried
to the court. A written opinion set out the court’s findings of
fact and conclusions of law. The defendant has moved to alter or
amend the judgment. For the most part, the motion simply re-argues
the merits. The original opinion correctly analyzes the issues. This
order denies the motion to alter or amend.”
The next steps are
far from certain.
“The tribe has not decided what
options it would elect if an agreement cannot be reached and the
infringement on its exclusivity continues,” Richard said.