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Florida drops gaming lawsuit, settles with Tribe

The Tribe and the state of Florida settled a legal battle regarding violations of the existing gaming compact July 5. The settlement agreement will allow the Tribe’s gaming operations to continue with blackjack and baccarat through 2030.

The agreement ends the state’s federal lawsuit challenging the Tribe’s right to keep blackjack and other table games in its Florida casinos. It also guarantees that the Tribe will continue to make monthly revenue sharing payments to the state.

Additionally, the Tribe and state agreed to prohibit pari-mutuels from operating designated player games, which in a 2016 federal court case were ruled to be banked card games and a violation of the compact. There is also a clause that the state must take “aggressive enforcement action against the continued operation of banked card games.”

“This is the first time since 1979 that the Tribe hasn’t had a lawsuit with the state,” said Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola. “It will ensure the stability of the Tribe and sets the path for the next 13 years of the compact.”

Since the 2016 compact violation ruling, which stated the Tribe no longer had to make payments to the state, the Tribe made those payments anyway to a state escrow account. The action was a show of good faith and was noted in the settlement agreement.

“The settlement is 100 percent in favor of the Tribe,” said Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming and chairman of Hard Rock International. “All the leverage goes to the Tribe.”

Officials agree the settlement ensures a stable future for Tribal members and employees.

“The state and the tribe are good partners,” said Chairman Osceola. “We think this is a good thing for the state and it’s definitely a good thing for the Tribe. We will continue to do our business, pay our bills and send money to the state so they can create jobs as well.”

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.

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