The Seminole Tribe of Florida has informed Governor Rick Scott and other state officials that it will continue to offer blackjack and other card games at its casinos, although that provision of the gaming compact, agreed to five years ago, will expire July 31. Tribal leaders claim they can keep the card games because Florida regulators allowed South Florida racetracks to offer electronic gaming machines, in violation of the compact.
In his letter to Scott, Tribal Council Chairman James Billie called for state and Seminole officials to meet within 30 days to try to resolve the disagreement. If that doesn’t work out, the two parties will go into mediation and eventually federal court. There was no immediate reaction from Scott to Billie’s letter.
Billie said the Seminoles will continue to make payments to the state for the card games as “a gesture of good faith.” Under the compact, the tribe agreed to pay the state more than $1 billion over five years for exclusive rights to blackjack and other card games at five of its seven casinos.
State Senator Rob Bradley, who oversees the committee responsible for regulating the gambling industry, said he does not agree that state regulators violated the compact, but said Billie’s letter was a “fairly predictable move” intended to jump-start stalled negotiations.