The state of Florida has finally resolved its legal issues with the local Seminole Tribe, reaching an agreement with it. The agreement is to result in ending the long-time legal dispute about the right of the Tribe to offer blackjack tables across the state.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Seminoles would be able to provide blackjack games over the next 14 years, and in return, it would be required to contribute part of its revenues to the state. Also, Florida would get a $220-million payment immediately.
Last November, the US District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled in favour of the local Seminole Tribe, allowing the latter to keep its blackjack offering in spite of the fact that the tribe’s compact with the state of Florida had been expired. The ruling was greatly beneficial for the Tribe, and what is more, it occurred as one of the main drivers for a new deal with the state to be considered and discussed.
The District Judge Hinkle and the tribe agreed on the issue that the breach of its compact with the state gave it the opportunity to extend the 5-year limit on these games.
At first, the state’s authorities appealed the ruling and claimed that it would be better if the Seminole Tribe is not allowed to offer blackjack games across the state. The legislative session was ended and neither the compact was renewed, nor the dispute was resolved. The local Tribe, on the other hand, argued that its compact was violated by the state, and stripped it of its state-wide monopoly by allowing other gambling facilities to offer similar games to their customers. It also decided to stop making the payments it was required until there is an official resolution of the issue.
Under the current gambling legislation of the state of Florida, house-banked games are not allowed to be offered in local racinos, while traditional poker games, called non-banked games, are legal at the racinos. Florida’s gaming market is ranked third by size in the US, being outrun by the states of California and Oklahoma.
Also, the settlement agreement, local lawmakers would be able to officially renew the rules for the banked-card games that have previously expired with the compact’s expiration over their next session. Under the agreement, the tribe will be obliged to make payments over the 2018 legislative session in case that certain enforcement actions are taken by Florida lawmakers to formally forbid the illegal games across the state.
Up to date, there are about thirty poker rooms between the tribal and commercial facilities across the state of Florida. Alone, Florida’s Seminole Tribe operates the Hard Rock casinos located in Hollywood and Tampa, as well as five other casinos across the state. The gambling business of the Tribe is estimated to over $2 billion on an annual basis.
A spokesperson of the Tribe confirmed of the agreement, saying that the latter ensured a stable future for both the members and the employees of the Seminole Tribe.