Blackjack Dispute Settled in Florida’s Seminole Casinos

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It is a win-win situation for the state of Florida’s Gov. Rick Scott and the Seminole Tribe of Florida! The legal battle between the two parties regarding the $2 billion a year gambling operation finally ended on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.

In 2010, the state of Florida and the Seminole entered a deal that allowed the tribe to have slot machines and Blackjack tables in most of its casinos. However, the provision pertaining to the Blackjack clause expired in 2015, which in turn initiated a legal battle between the Seminoles and the state of Florida.

Both parties have now agreed on dropping the continuing litigation over the issue on whether the Seminole tribe can retain Blackjack tables in their casinos such as Hollywood’s and Tampa’s Hard Rock Casinos.

The two sides agreed on the Seminole tribe keeping the Blackjack tables in their casinos up to the year 2030, whereas the state of Florida will be the recipient of a whopping $220 million, and an additional $120 million sometime next year.

Barry Richard, attorney-at-law of the Seminoles, said that there is no loser under the terms of the settlement. He said the Seminoles feel safe and secure in the knowledge that the Blackjack games will continue to dominate their casinos. On the other hand, the state will get their fair share amounting to hundreds of millions.

There might be a problem though as the approval by the Florida legislature is not actually necessary to carry out the terms of the settlement. Also stipulated is for the state representatives to act against a certain variant of card game that dog and horse tracks were allowed to promote. Track owners may be pressed to counter this provision.

The secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Jonathan Zachem, is highly delighted that the two parties have reached an agreement. Zachem observed that the settlement assured the continuity of the existing Seminole agreement, prohibiting expansion of gaming.

Last year, Gov. Scott and the Seminole tribe tried to work on a better deal that would have included roulette and craps in the equation. However, state legislators vetoed this idea while the lawsuit was pending. Florida’s legislators came up with a more encompassing gambling bill but the bill did not pass.

Robert Hinkle, a U.S. District judge, ruled that dog and horse tracks under Gov. Scott regulators, are permitted to offer card games similar to those exclusive to the Seminole-owned casinos during a 5-year period. Hinkle added that the tribe has another 14 years to keep Blackjack tables in their casinos. Though the state initially appealed this ruling, both parties have agreed to dismiss the appeal.

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