Seminole Tribe offers suspended gaming payments to the state of Florida

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The Seminole Tribe of Florida informed Gov. Ron DeSantis said he would stop millions in monthly payments for effective gaming exclusivity rights on Wednesday after further legislative negotiations on his exclusive rights to certain card games failed.

"The Tribe believes that the close working law and related legislation developed with the Seanad leadership would solve this issue and was beneficial to the State and the tribe," Marcellus Osceola Jr, chairman of the tribal council.

Osceola said that he respected the governor's decision to take more time to review the issues and to start discussions again during the summer.

"Meanwhile, the Tribe will continue to agree with the state and will suspend its income share payments until the issue of illegal banking card game is resolved," wrote Osceola.

That potential loss of revenue of $ 350 million unless the state can stop parimutuels – horse and dog tracks and ai jai facial – from offering card games the tribe said to him on his exclusive gaming rights. Specifically, the tribe has an exclusive right to card games, “bank games”, games in which players steer a bet per house and the house covers every bet.

The income was not included as part of the state budget of $ 91.1 billion and I knew how volatile the story was with the tribe.

The Governor's Office said he had not yet received the letter, but it is hoped that she will be in post before the end of business on Tuesday.

The tribe then signed an agreement with Gov. Rick Scott will continue to make his monthly payments to the state at the end of this session so that they do not have to take on enhanced issues.

These included permitting slot machines in counties where voters allowed them through a referendum outside Miami-Dade and Broward counties and the regulation of the state on designated player games.

The tribe was not required to make payments from 31 March, but agreed to do so because it depends on the state economy.

Barry Richard, an attorney for the tribe, said there is no involvement in suspending the payments to modify or extend the contract, but the violation at parimutuels on the exclusive right of the tribe to offer bank card games.

"The state does not have to negotiate a new CD," said Richard. "They just need to stop the violations. These parimutuels are very strong, even advertising these card games."

The dispute goes back to a federal case in 2014 which Richard tried before District Judge Robert Hinkle.

The Seminole Tribe has exclusive rights to offer bank card games under its compact with the state. Parimutuels are allowed to conduct non-banking games like poker, where the players bet on each other and succeed from common kitten.

But parimutuels games came on games named as a player or bank player, where each player takes a turn as a dealer and that person covers every bet for that hand. When a person from the casino or an external company was found sitting at each table at the parimutuels, the tribe was sued.

Hinkle ruled in November 2016 that the designated clearance games violated the 2010 agreement which gave exclusive rights to Seminoles to offer blackjack and other games under bank.

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Screenshot of letter from Seminole Tribe of Florida. (Photo: Democracy) t

DOCUMENT: Read the letter to Gov. DeSantis from the Seminole Tribe of Florida

After Hinkle's decision, the state agreed not to appeal if the year tribe gave the state the parimutuel card games to close down. A development agreement was developed, bringing the state to the end of the 2017 session.

The 2017 session ended and the tribe went to wait until the end of this session for the state to act.

Based on Hinkle's decision, Osceola said, that the tribe could stop all income share payments since then. But he agreed to continue making payments to take time of the state to take "aggressive enforcement action" to close the games.

"Unfortunately, there was no aggressive enforcement action against these games, which extended from Judge Hinkle's decision," wrote Osceola.

Legislative leaders had a number of meetings with tribal officers towards the end of this year's session, but they had little time.

There is no need to find a new agreement or arrangement for the tribe to resume the payments, Richard said. The whole thing is that the state takes action, and the Professional Regulatory Department, the Attorney General, any state attorney could do so, he said.

"They have to resume payments if breaches stop," said Richard. "The state has different options to stop the violation."

Contact Schweers at jschweers@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @jeffschweers.

RIGHTING: Seminole gaming payments are not included as revenue in the 2019-20 budget as reported in a previous online version of this scenario.

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