Seminole Tribe wins big decision in gaming dispute with Florida

A Seminole Tribe owns and operates the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Tampa, Florida. Photo from Facebook The Seminole Tribe scored a big victory on Wednesday in a gaming dispute with the state of Florida.

In a 36-page decision, Judge Robert Hinkle said the state violated the tribe's exclusive rights to Class III gaming. As a result, he said the tribe can continue offering blackjack and other banked card games and can do so without sharing revenues with the state.

"It is declared that the Seminole Tribe of Florida has the right under the 2010 compact to provide banked card games for the compact’s entire 20-year term," Hinkle wrote.

The tribe also accused the state of failing to negotiate in "good faith" as required by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. But Hinkle said the state made viable attempts to work with the tribe so he declined to make a ruling on that issue.

"That a state must negotiate in good faith does not mean the state must agree to terms," Hinkle wrote. "Even good-faith negotiations sometimes fail."

Still, the decision was a complete vindication for the tribe. By allowing non-Indian facilities to offer card games, the state violated the exclusivity provisions of the 2010 compact.

"The Seminole Tribe is very pleased with Judge Hinkle's ruling and is carefully reviewing it," spokesperson Gary Bitner said in a statement quoted by the Florida media. "The tribe believes the ruling provides for its future stability and ensures 3,600 Seminole gaming employees will keep their jobs.”

Since 2010, the tribe has shared $1.7 billion with the state. The tribe has been willing to continue sharing revenues but state lawmakers refused to ratify a new deal.

Read More on the Story:
Seminole Tribe Can Keep Dealing Blackjack, Baccarat until 2030 (Sunshine State News 11/9)
Happy day at Hard Rock: Seminoles get to keep blackjack (Florida Politics 11/9)
Federal court favors Seminoles in gambling lawsuit (The South Florida Sun Sentinel 11/9)
Judge: Seminole Tribe can keep blackjack (AP 11/9)
Seminole Tribe gets big win in gambling dispute (The News Service of Florida 11/9)
Seminole Tribe of Florida Wins Battle to Keep Blackjack (NBC Miami 11/9)

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