Weeks after blackjack and baccarat were declared illegal at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino near Hollywood, Florida, the games continue to roll on, with no immediate end in sight.
“If you’re a player, you can make reservations now for October, Thanksgiving and Christmas,”
law professor and gaming expert Robert Jarvis told the Miami Herald. “The games will continue.”
Unless a special legislative session is called, the matter cannot be resolved until the regular session convenes next March. Meanwhile, the tribe and Governor Charlie Crist will appeal the state Supreme Court’s July 7-0 ruling, which says Crist had no legal authority to grant the high-stakes card games last year.
According to federal law, tribal casinos can have Class III games as long as they have a valid compact with the state. The compact must give the tribe all the games already offered at casinos in Florida. But since Class III table games like blackjack and pai gow are illegal in Florida, the Supreme Court says the tribe can’t operate them either. Only the legislature or a constitutional amendment can change the law.
Tribal attorneys say banked card games are not illegal, and offered as proof the 1990s Million Dollar Flamingo Fortune TV show, run by the state lottery, which featured a banked game.
The outcome of the dispute is critical to Florida’s economy. In exchange for the games, the Seminoles agreed to pay the state at least $100 million a year for 25 years. If the court ruling is upheld, “the tribe can operate its slot machines and the state gets nothing,” law professor Kathryn Rand told the Herald. “That would be a pretty bad outcome politically for the state.”
With the outcome unknown, plans are still in place to offer blackjack at the Tampa Hard Rock later this year.