Monday, August 3, 2015

Seminole Mediation

The Seminole Tribe of Florida formally requested mediation in its ongoing dispute with the state over whether it can still offer card games, including Blackjack, in the future. Five years ago, the parties entered into a 20-year compact under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The agreement gave the tribe exclusive rights to operate banked card games at most its facilities for five years. Lawmakers failed to pass a renewal of the compact or a new deal during this spring’s legislative session. Now, without the agreement renewed, the Seminoles find themselves within a 90-day period at which time they must discontinue such games. For five years of exclusivity, the Seminoles pledged to pay Florida a minimum of $1 billion during that period, an amount the tribe has actually exceeded. The tribe and its lawyers contend violation of exclusivity by allowing other gambling operators to operate banked card games. Last week, a mediation request stated that “The Tribe seeks to confirm: (1) its present right to continue offering banked card games for the remaining term of the Compact, which expires in 2030; (2) its right to stop making exclusivity payments to the State under the Compact and to instead make those payments into an escrow account; and (3) its right to expand the locations at which it is permitted to offer banked card games.” Last month, the tribe's chief sent the governor “notice of commencement of compact dispute resolution procedures” which outlined what the tribe considers violations of the agreement that expired without agreement. That letter included a claim the tribe has made for years regarding slot machines that look like Blackjack and Roulette and are authorized by state gambling regulators at non-tribal pari-mutuels. Reportedly, the tribe seeks to add other games, such as Craps and Roulette, as out-of-state casinos look for a foothold in Florida. The tribe is asking that a mediation conference take place within the next month. See stories here-- and