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Seminole Tribe Expands Gaming

November 14th, 2008 by Mike Vasilinda

The Seminole Tribe of Florida began operating 104 new blackjack and baccarat tables at the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Tampa on Thursday. And as Mike Vasilinda tells us, the expansion has the state attorney general crying Foul.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled in July that the Seminole Tribes deal with the state, allowing the tribe to operate slots and card games, was invalid. Gaming in South Florida has continued under Federal authority, but the expansion into Tampa has state officials fuming.

Theres really no other way to look at it other than the tribe is engaging in illegal activities, Sandi Copes, spokesperson for the Attorney Generals Office said. The state cannot stop it right now because of sovereign immunity issues.

The Tribe continues to pay the state. So far 70 million is being held in reserve. Attorney Barry Richard says the Tampa expansion has been in the works and could not be stopped, but no other sites will be opened until the Tribes deal to share the wealth with the state is clarified.

Its ultimately a federal decision and I believe that the tribe will have authorization for class-3 gaming, whether or not the legislature approves the compact, Richard said.

When it ruled against the deal in July, the states high court said lawmakers must have a say.

Sending the compact back here to the legislature is complicating the decision, because now more people want to be included.

Existing dog tracks and other gambling interests complicate any future deal.

I think the Seminoles want some certainty that they have approval from the state. The compact will give that, Rep. Ron Saunders said. But the other parimutuels are suffering financially and they want some part of that package also.

In the end, the state may not be able to stop the Indian gaming. And the best it may hope for is to share some of the proceeds.

Posted in Gambling, Legislature, McCollum, State News | 3 Comments »

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