Seminole Tribe Gets to Keep Blackjack Tables

A three-day trial was finalized by the ruling of the court in favor of the Seminole Tribe in the dispute against the state of Florida over illegal running of blackjack tables. Both the state of Florida and Seminole Tribe filed suits against each other, but this Wednesday the U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle reached the decision which benefits the tribe. As a result, not only can the Seminole Tribe keep the blackjack tables in their casinos, but they will have the legal permission to operate them for the next 14 years.

Who Broke the Law?

The state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe have signed a contract in 2010 under which Seminole will be allowed to exclusively offer blackjack and other banked games for the amount of $1 billion. This meant that no other gambling facility could offer these games or any games that function on the similar basis. This contract was successfully implemented, banking over $1.5 billion and its expiry date was on August 1st.

Following the expiry of the contract the Tribe should have ceased operating the games in question but they refused to do so. What is more they have filed a suit against the state accusing them of breaching their contract by allowing other horse-racing venues to offer banked games. That is when the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation finally spoke and the state decided to counter sue the Tribe.

The Court is On Tribe’s Side

When the compact expired, Seminole Tribe of Florida made an attempt to reach a deal with the governor and draft a new compact that would allow them to continue providing table games. Unfortunately for the Tribe which was willing to pay even more than in the previous five years, the legislators did not approve. The Tribe’s casinos continued to offer table games, which was illegal considering the fact that the 2010 compact was no longer valid. The state gave them a 90-day period to remove table games from their gaming establishments. That is when the Tribe decided to take matters to court, having known that the state has breached the clause of exclusivity of their contract.

Despite the fact that the state filed a counter suit, the U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled in favor of Tribe’s case, thus allowing them to keep table games, because according to the 2010 contract the Tribe is entitled to 15 years of using table games in case the state breaches the clause of exclusivity.

The interesting thing is that Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, state authority in charge of gambling, failed to report any issues with the table games. They reacted only after the Tribe filed the suit. The Court reprimanded FDBR for this lack of reaction.

About Seminole Tribe

Seminole Tribe of Florida is one of the three Seminole entities in the US. Their casinos include two Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos, Seminole Casinos Coconut Creek, Seminole Casino Classic, Seminole Immokalee and Seminole Casino Brighton. Seminole Tribe gaming activity generates 90% of their revenue.

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