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Gary Bitner

Florida Supreme Court rules against Gretna track, slots expansion

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A unanimous Florida Supreme Court has ruled against a North Florida racetrack seeking to add slot machines. The 20-page decision, released Thursday, means that gambling facilities in Gadsden County’s Gretna and in seven other counties that passed local referendums allowing slots also will not be able to offer them. In doing so, the court upheld a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal that agreed with state gambling regulators who denied the track a slots permit. In sum, the…

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Despite lack of deal, Seminole Tribe still paying state millions

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The Seminole Tribe of Florida has given the state of Florida another multi-million dollar payday. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation reported that the tribe paid $19.5 million in gambling revenue share on Monday. The department regulates gambling. That money includes revenue share from banked card games, specifically blackjack. The tribe also offers slots. It has Vegas-style and other gambling at seven casinos around the state, including Tampa’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, but has blackjack only in Tampa and Hollywood. Monday’s deposit brings the total amount paid by the…

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Lawyer: Seminole Tribe ‘will react accordingly’ to gambling bill’s death

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The Seminole Tribe of Florida “will react accordingly” to the demise of a gambling bill this Legislative Session, the Tribe’s top outside lawyer said Tuesday. Chief negotiators for the House and Senate said earlier Tuesday they wouldn’t resolve their differences over the legislation before the scheduled end of the 2017 Legislative Session on Friday. When asked whether the Tribe plans to stop paying the state, attorney Barry Richard of the Greenberg Traurig law firm said, “I can’t answer that question,” adding such a decision requires…

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Jose Felix Diaz: House will ‘take giant step’ in gambling conference

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The House will make its offer Wednesday morning in the Legislature’s negotiation on a gambling bill this year, state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz told reporters Tuesday night. “I expect to make significant progress in the conversation,” he said, without offering many details and saying the House’s offer was still in flux. “The earlier we get it out, the better.” The House and Senate are far apart on their respective gambling bills this session, with the House holding the line on gambling expansion,…

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Seminoles still paying state blackjack money—for now

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A Seminole Tribe of Florida spokesman Thursday declined comment on whether the tribe would stop payment to the state from its blackjack revenue. A source close to the tribe told FloridaPolitics.com on Wednesday that it’s considering not paying “one more dollar” to the state treasury without a new gambling agreement. According to a federal judge, it doesn’t have to. Coincidentally, Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen, the tribe’s general counsel Jim Shore and others were in Tallahassee Monday for meetings, including a…

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Happy day at Hard Rock: Seminoles get to keep blackjack

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A federal judge on Wednesday ruled the Seminole Tribe of Florida can continue to offer blackjack and other “banked card games” to its Hard Rock Casino customers in the state. In a 36-page opinion, Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said the state had broken an exclusivity deal with the tribe, part of what’s called the 2010 Seminole Compact, allowing it to keep its blackjack tables until 2030. “The order declares that the exception has been triggered — that the tribe may…

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James E. Billie ousted as head of state’s Seminole Tribe

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With less than a week before a trial over their blackjack games begins, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has removed James E. Billie as tribal chairman. Billie was ousted Wednesday in a 4-0 vote of the tribe’s governing council, Law 360 reported, citing “various issues with policies and procedures of the chairman’s office.” Gary Bitner, spokesman for the tribe, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Sun-Sentinel reported a special election will be held in the next month to elect a…

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