The Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida have agreed to terms that honor the tribe’s exclusive statewide rights to operate table games like blackjack and baccarat through 2030, while holding the state accountable for cracking down on player-banked card games at parimutuels.
The tribe and the Administration of Gov. Rick Scott reached the settlement on July 5. The agreement puts their legal dispute, ongoing since 2015, to rest. In November 2016, a federal judge ruled that because some Florida card rooms offer games that mimic blackjack and other table games exclusive to tribal casinos, the tribe is not obligated to continue making monthly revenue sharing payments to the state through 2030, the end of the original compact.
Under the new terms, the tribe will resume payments to the state through 2030. Florida will receive $340 million over the next fiscal year, including $220 million immediately. The money contributed by the tribe totals to more than twice as much as the banked games at parimutuels would have contributed to state coffers. The tribe has shared more than $1.7 billion with Florida since 2010.
If the Florida legislature fails to take “aggressive enforcement action” against the types of card games previously allowed at state parimutuels, the tribe can cease payments to the state. The Sun Sentinel notes that there's a possibility track owners could challenge that.
The Seminole Tribe originally sued the state in 2015 claiming that the approval of “player-banked” card games at rival tracks violated its exclusivity. Then the State of Florida counter-sued, arguing that the tribe’s five-year agreement granting the Seminoles exclusivity had expired.
“The settlement is one of the rare incidents where everybody benefits,” Barry Richard, attorney for the Seminole Tribe told the Miami Herald. “Nobody gave up anything. The state has an immediate infusion of money, and the tribe gets to continue its games.”
Gov. Scott agrees that it’s a win-win for both sides. “If you look at it, we settled the lawsuit. If you can do that on good terms I think that’s always a good idea and it doesn’t expand gaming which I think is also positive,” Scott said.