Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman James E. Billie on Wednesday put Gov. Rick Scott on notice that the tribe believes it is entitled to stop paying the state about $216 million a year and to continue offering banked card games unless the state resolves the issue in formal dispute resolution within 30 days.
Under the 2010 gaming compact with the state, the tribe has the exclusive right to operate banked card games -- black jack, baccarat and chemin de fer -- at five of its seven casinos. But under the terms of the 20-year agreement, the tribe is permitted to continue offering banked card games for the full term of the compact if the state permits anyone else to offer such games. If the tribe is no longer the exclusive provider of the games, it also may stop making revenue payments to the state for them -- an estimated loss of about $216 million a year.
The tribe contends that the state Division of Parimutuel Wagering has violated its right to offer banked card games exclusively in Florida and therefore it is entitled to operate the games even after the provision of the compact that governs the card games expires in July.
The tribe argues that the state triggered this provision by authorizing various video-based blackjack and baccarat stations at non-tribal slot casinos in Miami Dade and Broward counties in February 2011 and by allowing "double hand poker and three card poker" at cardrooms at Ebro Greyhound Park in North Florida, Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Racetrack in Hallandale Beach last year.