The Seminole Tribe of Florida has until the end of the month to remove blackjack tables from their casino gaming floor, due to not being able to come to an agreement with the state in regards to a gaming compact. Instead of removing the games, the tribe has now decided to sue the state to try and keep the blackjack gaming tables in place.
The tribe has been in negotiations with Governor Rick Scott for some time, with Scott stating that ‘significant process’ has been made. The tribe then filed the federal lawsuit to ensure that no harm was to come to the casino. In a statement, the Seminoles said: “The tribe has no option but to file in order to protect its interests and those of the 3,100 employees and their families whose jobs are in jeopardy.”
The Scott administration has not commented on the lawsuit filing and is refusing to say if the state will turn to federal authorities to have the blackjack tables removed from the Seminole-owned casinos.
It is not surprising that the lawsuit was filed by the tribe. It was last summer that a five year deal to authorize blackjack and other card game types ended and the tribe has now had a 90 day grace period in which to remove the gaming tables. On Thursday, this grace period ends.
Scott, along with other legislators, have been trying to come to an agreement for a new deal for a few weeks now. Scott met with tribal representatives earlier this month, but has not been able to come to an agreement as of yet.
In the new lawsuit, the Seminole Tribe is stating the state did not negotiate in good faith. The tribe believes the officials of the state want more money from the tribe due to the gaming, without offering a proportionate increase in the economic benefits of the tribe.
A deal was first reached between the tribe and Florida back in 2010 when the state gave the tribe the exclusive rights to offer blackjack and additional card games. The deal was also extended to three casinos in Broward County and additional venues in Tampa and Immokalee. The deal has generated at least $1 billion in revenues.
As the lawsuit was filed on Monday, the Seminole Tribe has asserted that their casinos have the right to keep the blackjack tables due to Florida regulators violating the compact with the tribe. The violation is referring to race tracks in South Florida being allowed to offer card games in electronic gaming form.