Despite "Progress" Seminoles Sue State to Keep Blackjack

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By: Associated Press
October 26, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- The Seminole Tribe of Florida is asking a federal judge to let it keep blackjack at its casinos across the state.

Florida and the tribe signed a deal in 2010 but the provision that allows blackjack and other banked card games expired earlier this year. The tribe is supposed to remove its blackjack tables by the end of this week.

But on Monday the tribe filed a federal lawsuit against the state.

The lawsuit asserts Seminole casinos can keep the games in place because Florida regulators violated the compact with the tribe by allowing South Florida race tracks to offer electronic versions of card games.

The tribe's chairman in a statement said "significant progress" has been made between state officials and the Seminoles to extend the current deal. But Chairman James Billie said the lawsuit was filed to protect the tribe's interests.

By: Matt Galka
October 12, 2015

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The clock is ticking on the state’s gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe. State lawmakers say they won’t discuss a new deal during their special session at the end of the month, meaning time could run out on blackjack being offered at casinos around Florida.

The ongoing back and forth between state officials and the Seminole Tribe over gambling at the Indian casinos has a big hurdle coming up. The Seminole Compact which allows the Tribe to exclusively offer blackjack is officially expiring at the end of the month. Senator Rob Bradley chairs his chamber’s regulated industry committee and says that conversations about a new deal are going well.

“The state of Florida and the tribe are making significant progress, and I feel like we’re headed in the right direction but we’re not there yet,” said Sen. Bradley.

The legislature doesn’t exactly have an Ace up their sleeve. They won’t be discussing the compact during this month’s special session according to Bradley.

State lawmakers will convene for a special session on October 19th. The Seminole Compact’s grace period for blackjack runs out on October 29th.

“The expectation is that they’ve signed an agreement that if there’s not a path forward to extend then they cannot offer blackjack games anymore. Keep in mind that the tribe has rights to gaming, types of gaming that do not include blackjack. Nobody is closing any doors,” he said.

The Tribe said earlier this year that they believe the state has already violated the terms of the deal by allowing video blackjack to other casinos around the state.

In response to Bradley’s comments, a spokesman for the Tribe simply said “conversations are continuing.”

The original deal was worth $1 billion dollars to Florida. But because the Tribe believes the state already violated the compact, they believe they can still deal blackjack and not continue to pay.

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