Florida judge sides with Seminoles

Jan 9, 2016 9:00 AM

A federal judge has sided with Seminole Tribe of Florida which has sued the state claiming it has a right to continue offering certain table games in its casinos with or without a compact.

The state had asked the court to throw out the Seminole suit. The case will continue forward.

The ruling came this week as lawmakers are ready to begin their annual 60-day session this week where one of the top items of business is a proposed $3 billion compact that offers the state more money and allows the seven Seminole casinos to offer more games.

But there is a lot of work to be done before it can be considered official and there are a number of other interests looking for a piece of the gaming revenue pie.

Because of this latter element, the new proposed compact is widely seen as “dead on arrival” in the legislature where it must get the endorsement of legislators convinced Florida’s gaming policy has been tilted heavily in favor of the Seminoles at the expense of pari-mutuel track operators who want access to more gaming than is now available to them.

Florida filed a suit against the Seminoles who refused to stop offering blackjack after the old compact expired. The Seminoles went to court claiming the state had breached the compact by allowing south Florida racinos to offer electronic versions of games such as blackjack.

As if Florida’s gambling landscape was not murky enough, the prospect of at least two large destination resorts in South Florida also continues to get attention from companies such as Genting which bought waterfront land in the Miami area.

But compacts and agreements strong enough to justify the investment of million or even billions continue to be hard to come by in Florida.

Phil Hevener has been writing about the Nevada gaming business for more than 30 years. Email: [email protected].