The Florida Seminole Tribe has started a legal action against a number of operators that run “electronic gambling parlors” across Duval County. The lawsuit filed by the local Indian tribe comes as a result of its allegations that such parlors breaching the exclusive right of the Tribe to offer casino-style gambling.
According to court records, the Seminole Tribe filed the antitrust lawsuit in Duval County’s Fourth Judicial Circuit Court last week, saying that its’ exclusive compact with the state of Florida was violated by a number of internet cafés in Jacksonville.
The Seminole Tribe has included a list containing the names of 11 electronic gambling parlor (EGP) operators which the tribe claims to own, run or maintain casino-style gambling facilities to their customers. Some of the electronic gaming parlors listed in the legal action include Wild Plum Arcade, Lucky’s Cyber Center and Big Chances Internet Cafe. Most EGPs which are being sued by the tribe have Facebook pages which describe them as coffee shops, cafés or restaurants. Moreover, the lawsuit filed by the Seminoles also includes 15 landlords that own, run or lease premises where electronic gambling parlors are operated, which is said to be illegal according to the tribe.
Duval County’s EGPs Violate Florida Compact, Says the Tribe
As mentioned above, the lawsuit was filed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida as the latter complaints that the gambling-style services offered by the EGPs violates its gaming compact with the state that dates back to 2010. This was the time when the Seminole Tribe was granted with the exclusive right to run Class III gaming operations in its establishments across the state. For the time being, video gambling systems and slot machines are considered as gaming activities of Class III.
Under its compact with the state and in return to the right to operate such games, the Seminole Tribe also pays the state of Florida a certain percentage of its casino gambling revenue on a monthly basis. In its legal action, the local Indian Tribe stated that it has paid more than $1 billion in state taxes since 2010.
The complaint also states that the EGPs operation on the territory of Duval County breaches public policy that has been established by local anti-gambling legislation, and more specifically in Chapter 849 of Florida Statutes. According to the Seminole Tribe of Florida, such violation of public policy could also be described as unfair competition and unfair practice.
The complaint has come at a time when the validity of the 7-year compact between the state of Florida and the local Seminole Tribe is put at stake. The compact between the local Indian tribe and the state could be announced null and void under state law. If such thing happens, the Seminoles would no longer have to make the revenue sharing payments they are required to make at present times.