The State of Florida was notified by letter on Monday that if it does not reach an agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida in the allowance of Class III gaming, the Department of the Interior will step in to allow such gaming.
In the letter, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Carl Altman wrote “The Department has the responsibility to the Tribe”, referring to the 2004 constitutional amendment passed by voters in Broward County which allow for Las Vegas Style Slots at pari-mutuals. “This leaves the Tribe on an unfair playing field if it is allowed on Class II games”, continued the letter.
The letter gave Florida’s Governor, Charlie Crist until November 15 to reach a compact with the Seminoles. The letter further stated that if a state-compact is not reached by then that “the Department will issue Class III gaming procedures.”
Crist is on a trade mission in Brazil, but the governor has been positive about reaching a deal with the Seminoles to garner some tax revenue for the state, which, without a compact, would be forfeited.
Crist said “I understand they’re sort of forcing the issue and the issue is they’re going to make us do it one way or another, I want to make sure we’re protecting taxpayers interests first, Florida’s interest first….We’ll do the right thing.”
Both sides have said the negotiations have been positive since Crist took office in January, after very little progress was made during talks with former governor Jeb Bush.
The State is looking to realize more than $100 million a year in return for the Seminoles to be allowed to offer games such as Blackjack, Baccarat, Vegas Slots, and a guarantee that the state will not allow competing games within certain geographic area near their casinos.
A lawyer representing the Seminole’s, Barry Richard said, “Neither the tribe nor the state prefers to have procedures from the Department of the Interior, Under the procedures, the state gets no revenue, under the compact, the state gets a great deal of revenue.”