Seminole Tribe likely won’t accept gaming bill as written

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Barry Richard, attorney for the Seminole Tribe, has told Josh Hafenbrack of the <a href="http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/sfl-compact-seminoles-gambling-fl-061009,0,6827150.story">South Florida Sun-Sentinel </a>that the tribe likely won’t accept the gaming bill passed by the Florida Legislature in May as written.

Richard told Hafenbrack that not only couldn’t the tribe live with the deal, but that he also believes the deal wouldn’t receive approval from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which is necessary for implentation. The reason is that the bill leaves open the option of parimutuels getting blackjack at some point down the road, which weakens the exclusivity requirement necessary for states to get money from tribes for gaming compacts.

The Seminoles are also concerned about an increase in payments required to the state and not being able to offer table games at all seven of their casinos.

Gov. Charlie Crist received the bill this week and is expected to sign it. Once he does, he and the Seminole Tribe – and likely legislative leaders – will work to draft a new compact. House Rep. Bill Galvano, the lead gaming negotiator in the House, told Hafenbrack what many in the state already know – that the House has bent about as far as it will on this issue. He said he may be able to sell small tweaks to his fellow House members, but a structural change in the bill will be a non-starter.

If the Legislature and Seminoles can’t agree on a pact, it will set up a standoff with an uncertain outcome. The status quo will remain until the federal government chooses to intercede, at which point it may decide the current compact is valid, meaning the Seminoles can continue to offer certain table games and slot machines in all of its facilities or it may decide that it isn’t, and shut down almost all Class III gaming in Seminole casinos. Either of those scenarios would mean nothing will change at parimutuel facilities, including restrictions on poker.