As you may know already, there are strong indications that the State of Florida may allow other casinos to be built and operated in Florida. If this does happen, we will have to become involved because as you know, Seminole Tribe of Florida maintains the largest gaming operation in Florida, and the state has allowed us to operate gaming for several years.
I’m proud to say that the money brought in to Florida by the Seminole Tribe through its Hard Rock and other casinos stays here in Florida. It does not go out of the country or even out of the state. But, as I am sure you understand, the impact to the Tribe from such a move by the state, is unknown at this time. The messages flowing in and out of Tallahassee are very complicated and political; everyone involved is either predicting or wondering just what the effect will be on their own part of the state.
We do have our people out there and their ears are to the ground, trying to figure out which direction this is all going to go. As soon as I find out and get the feel of what is going on, I will have community meetings to bring Tribal members up to date.
You will be seeing us on the three largest reservations concerning our budget, to involve community members in our discussions prior to voting to pass the budget. If there is a program that has been cut and you feel it should be kept, that it was contributing to your community, I hope you will attend and give us your advice in support or opposition to our budget cuts.
Our budget cuts are not done to hurt anybody in the Tribe but rather to protect our financial situation and allow us to maintain the reserve we need to have. I’m sure there are many of you with questions, and I and the Council will be there to listen to your opinions and advice.
Recently, the Council went to New York to meet with the people who rate bonds and I found out, to my amazement, that Hard Rock is one of the best, in fact the top-rated business, in the world. And that is due to our excellent management team headed by Mr. Jim Allen.
I never dreamed that Seminole people would be working with such high-standard people. I would like to express my thanks to Jim Allen and his team. I’m hoping we will continue to develop other Hard Rock Casinos around the world. Thank you guys at the Hard Rock! Sho naa bisha!
James E. Billie is Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.