Stakeholders On Both Sides Worry Outcome Of Seminole Gaming Agreement Could Be A Gamble

Nov 18, 2015

Credit Steven Depolo

The group “No Casinos” is imploring the governor to stop any gambling expansion connected to efforts to renegotiate a gaming agreement between Florida and the Seminole tribe. The group sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott Wednesday.

A portion of the state’s agreement that lets the tribe hold games like Black Jack has expired. Now the state is looking into a new agreement and No Casinos' Paul Seago says he sees three possible outcomes. The state could renew the agreement with no changes. The two sides could fail to come to an agreement…

“But the third option and one of the things we’re hearing is that everybody has a number in mind in terms of what they want to get from the tribe. In order to get that, they feel like they have to give them new types of gambling. They’re talking about slots and roulette,” Seago says.

But any agreement made during negotiations must be approved by the legislature. And Seago says to get that to pass, other concessions might need to be made, like slot machines at certain pari-mutuels. And he says that could result in a significant expansion in gaming.

Meanwhile Attorneys for Governor Rick Scott’s administration are asking the courts to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The tribe is trying to keep its card games intact as the state renegotiates a portion of the expired gaming compact. Gaming Attorney Mark Dunbar says the negotiations with the Seminoles could set the stage for other tribes, like the Poarch Creeks, to negotiate their own gambling deals with the state.

“At some point, there will be a reckoning. If this administration or the next administration chooses to ignore the Porch’s request for good faith negotiations,” he says.

The Poarch Creek Tribe has expressed interest in negotiating a similar deal with the state. Gambling plays a major role in the state’s economy, but Florida lawmakers have struggled for years to find ways to regulate it. Gambling is technically illegal in the state, but there have been carve outs made for slots, race tracks, jai alai, banked card games and tribal casinos. The newest entry into the gambling market is fantasy sports betting which some lawmakers are trying to legalize in the state.