State and tribe seek end to Indian gambling lawsuit

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The state of Florida and its Seminole Tribe each have filed motions for summary judgment in an ongoing gambling dispute.

Both are locked in a federal-court dispute over whether the Seminoles’ casinos can continue to have blackjack tables at their casinos including ones located in Tampa and in South Florida.

The separate motions were filed last week. Granting such motions allows parties to win a case without a trial.

The Seminoles say the state broke its word by allowing “cardrooms in the state to conduct various card games” that unfairly compete with the tribe.

Their filing also said state officials “permitted pari-mutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties to conduct card games such as blackjack, a house banked game, using electronic (machines).”

The state countered, in part, that federal Indian gambling law “expressly prohibits any claim that the State has failed to negotiate new compact terms when there is an existing” agreement.

The tribe filed suit last year after a portion of a five-year gambling deal with the state expired. It granted exclusive rights to blackjack in return for revenue share to the state.

Gov. Rick Scott in December reached a new $3 billion deal with the tribe that would let them keep blackjack and add table games, such as craps and roulette.

The deal also allows for the addition of slot machines at a Palm Beach county dog track and also leaves an opening for another casino in Miami-Dade as well as create a path for existing tracks in that county and Broward to eventually add blackjack tables as well.

But the deal was rejected by the Florida Legislature during this year’s session that wrapped up in March as various interests — including the owners of existing tracks that compete against the Seminoles — pushed for changes that were not part of the initial deal approved by tribal officials.

The court in this case ultimately may decide what type of gambling will be allowed to continue in the state.


The Associated Press contributed to this report, reprinted with permission. 

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.