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McCullom Files Gambling Suit

December 20th, 2007 by Mike Vasilinda

Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum filed a lawsuit today, seeking to keep the Seminole Tribe of Florida from getting expanded gambling, at least temporarily. The U.S. Dept. of the Interior has until early January to approve the tribe’s gaming pact with the state. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, McCollum wants to keep the Indians from getting more gaming until a Florida court decides if the deal is legal.

Hear it Here: McCollum Files Gambling Suit

At the Center of the lawsuit is the question of who can authorize increased gambling in Florida. In mid-November, Governor Charlie Crist gave the Seminole tribe black jack and full-blown slots, subject to federal approval. Almost immediately, State lawmakers went to court to block the deal, arguing that lawmakers should have a say.  Now the State’s attorney General wants to keep the Feds from approving the deal until Florida’s courts rule.

“We’re just simply putting it on hold until the state and the courts resolve whether or not it’s a valid compact,” Attorney General Bill McCullom said. “Otherwise what you would have happening would be an invalid compact going into affect.”

The Tribe’s attorney says the only real impact of the latest suit will be to delay the state’s payment of 50 million dollars, which the tribe owes once there’s Federal approval of the deal.

“I can tell you that the Seminoles have no intention of putting in Class 3 machines and beginning to operate them before the Supreme Court’s decision,” Seminole Tribe attorney Barry Richard said. “So from a practical standpoint, it’s not clear to me what this accomplishes.”

The Florida Supreme Court won’t even hear the case until the end of January. And a decision might not come for months after that.

McCullom opposes gambling but says he’s only trying to avoid confusion and make sure the Tribe doesn’t get something it might eventually lose in court.

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