Posts Tagged ‘Seminole Tribe of Florida’

2017 Legislative Session preview: Showdown over gambling—again

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

With competing legislation now set up in both chambers, the question remains whether lawmakers finally will pass a gambling overhaul or whether the effort will founder as it has in years past.
Hanging in the balance is a new blackjack exclusivity deal for the Seminole Tribe of Florida that promises a cut to the state worth $3 billion over seven years.
Negotiated by Gov. Rick Scott in late 2015, it failed to gain approval from lawmakers last session as it got bogged down by a fight over expanding games for the state’s pari-mutuel facilities, such as horse and dog tracks.
Indeed, the battle has usually been between pari-mutuels, who want to offer more gambling and be free of the state’s requirement that they run live races in order to offer cards or slots, and “family-friendly” tourism proponents, chiefly Disney. 
Younger audiences don’t want to bet on horses or dogs, the pari-mutuels say, and are more taken with diversions like fantasy sports, which would be made expressly legal in Florida in other legislation filed for this year.
Valery Bollier, CEO and co-Founder of Oulala Games, which offers fantasy soccer games in the U.K., told an International Casino Conference audience this month that the gambling industry “will fall off a cliff if they do not adapt to a millennial audience.”
“Young generations are not playing the same games as their parents,” Bollier said. “…They have access to such amazing skill games on their consoles and constant social interactions on their mobile phones.”
The two bills this year (SB 8, HB 7037) come at the issue from different directions, with the House seeking to “freeze” gambling in the state, and the Senate generally allowing expansion of gambling opportunities.
For example, the House outlaws designated-player card games, but the Senate would let “all cardroom operators … offer designated-player games,” which

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Seminole Tribe also wants casino near NYC

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

The Seminole Tribe of Florida, now co-owner of Atlantic City’s Trump Taj Mahal casino, also wants to build a $1 billion casino in northern New Jersey just outside New York City.
Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Tribe-controlled Hard Rock International, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the company remains committed to its plan to build a casino at the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherford if voters change the law to allow it.
Hard Rock and two investors bought the Taj Mahal, which now-President Donald Trump opened in 1990, from billionaire Carl Icahn on Wednesday for an unspecified price.
“We own 25 percent of the Meadowlands (track) and we are 100 percent still on board to do that project at the Meadowlands,” said Allen, also Seminole Gaming CEO.
The company has partnered with track owner Jeff Gural to propose a casino resort just outside New York City that analysts predict could become one of the most successful casinos in the nation – at least until New York City allows one or more casinos to open nearby.
But before that happens, New Jersey voters would have to change a law that currently restricts casinos to Atlantic City. A statewide referendum on it last November was rejected by more than 80 percent of voters, and it cannot be reconsidered for at least two years.
When it reopens in the spring of 2018, the casino’s domes and spires will be gone, replaced by Hard Rock’s signature music theme. The company says it has the world’s largest collection of music memorabilia, which is on display at Hard Rock cafes and casinos around the world.
Allen said a stabilizing climate in Atlantic City helped convince Hard Rock to buy the casino; it made an unsuccessful bid for Revel in bankruptcy court.
“The bones of the Taj Mahal are as good as anything in town, and it’s

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Seminole Tribe buys former Trump Taj Mahal casino in NJ

Wednesday, March 1st, 2017

The Seminole Tribe of Florida is expanding its gambling holdings to the Garden State.
Hard Rock International, which the Tribe controls, Wednesday announced it had bought the shuttered Trump Taj Mahal casino on Atlantic City’s famed boardwalk from billionaire Carl Icahn. The deal includes two New Jersey investors.
The sale comes four months after Icahn closed it amid a crippling strike. A sale price was not disclosed.
The Tribe operates the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood.
“We are excited to be part of this revitalization of Atlantic City creating thousands of jobs to help local employment,” Jim Allen, chairman of Hard Rock International and and Seminole Gaming CEO, said in a statement.
“We are 100 percent convinced Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City will be a success,” he added.
Hard Rock International, which will be majority owner, is in partnership with the Morris and Jingoli families of New Jersey. The investment group said they “will invest more than $300 million to purchase, substantially renovate and re-open the casino,” according to the statement.
The Tribe last year consolidated its control over the rock ‘n’ roll-themed Hard Rock hotel and casino brand, buying out remaining rights from the owner-operator of Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
President Donald Trump opened the Trump Taj Mahal casino in 1990 but lost control of it in a bankruptcy filing. Icahn bought it last year from a separate bankruptcy, but closed it in October amid a strike by its main casino workers’ union seeking restoration of employee health insurance and pension benefits that Icahn deemed unaffordable.
Icahn, who also owns Atlantic City’s Tropicana, said he only wanted to operate one casino in town. He’s still trying to sell the also closed former Trump Plaza casino, also closed.
The Morris family, led by Edgewood Properties CEO Jack Morris, has experience in redeveloping gambling properties. Edgewood led the redevelopment of Cherry Hill, New Jersey’s former Garden State

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Seminoles paid $40 million in blackjack share so far this year

Monday, February 27th, 2017

Despite ongoing litigation over its right to offer blackjack, the Seminole Tribe of Florida continues to pay gambling revenue share to the state, a total of nearly $40 million for the first two months of the year.
Stephen Lawson, spokesman for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Monday said the Tribe deposited the money to cover January and February. The department regulates gambling in the state.
The money will go into the state’s General Revenue Fund, Lawson previously said.
A federal judge ruled the state broke the original blackjack deal, which actually expired in 2015, and said the tribe can offer “banked card games” through 2030. The state appealed to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In April, the Tribe and the state of Florida will attempt to mediate their dispute over exclusive rights to offer blackjack in return for a cut of revenue, FloridaPolitics.com reported earlier Monday.
The original 2010 deal actually wound up being worth more than $200 million per year in revenue share to state coffers. Blackjack and other gambling, including slots, has brought in billions for the tribe. The Seminoles offer blackjack at five of their seven casinos, including the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa.
A renewed blackjack agreement struck by Gov. Rick Scott promised $3 billion over seven years in revenue share to the state, but it failed to gain approval from lawmakers.
It is back before the Legislature this year as part of dueling gambling legislation: The House wants to contract gambling overall; the Senate would expand some gambling opportunities across the state.
The post Seminoles paid $40 million in blackjack share so far this year appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Blackjack appeal now headed to mediation

Monday, February 27th, 2017

An appeal to a federal judge’s ruling allowing the Seminole Tribe to keep offering blackjack at its Florida casinos now has been scheduled for an April 11 mediation, court dockets show.
The state’s lawyers had asked the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for more time to file their initial brief in the appeal.
But they withdrew that request upon learning that a mediation conference had been set at the Kinnard Mediation Center.
The state “learned that … the parties could obtain appropriate extensions of time to file briefs from the mediator,” wrote attorney J. Carter Andersen of the Bush Ross firm, which is representing the state.
“Counsel consulted with the (Tribe’s attorneys) regarding this motion, and (they do) not object to the requested relief,” he wrote.
Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in November had ruled that regulators working under Gov. Rick Scott allowed select Florida dog and horse tracks to offer card games that were too similar to ones that were supposed to be exclusive to Tribe-owned casinos for a five-year period.
The judge decided the Tribe could keep its blackjack tables till 2030.
The state, however, wanted Hinkle to instead order the tribe to remove the games because a blackjack provision in an agreement between the state and tribe expired in 2015.
Gambling legislation has again been filed in both chambers of the Legislature this year.
While the bills differ by expanding or contracting gambling, both included a new blackjack deal worth $3 billion over seven years in revenue share to the state. Negotiated by Scott last year, it previously failed to gain approval from lawmakers.
 
The post Blackjack appeal now headed to mediation appeared first on Florida Politics.

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House gambling bill gets thumbs up on first look

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

With its chair saying he wants to “freeze” gambling in the state, a House gambling panel on Thursday cleared that chamber’s overhaul bill, including a renewed blackjack agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
The Tourism and Gaming Control Subcommittee OK’d the measure (PCB TGC 17-01) on a 10-5 party-line vote.
But the bill, which isn’t yet assigned to another committee, differs greatly from the Senate’s gambling legislation. Its proposal (SB 8) now is cleared for consideration by the full chamber after a 14-2 vote in the Appropriations Committee, also Thursday.
The House is looking to contract gambling overall; the Senate would expand some gambling opportunities though bill sponsor Bill Galvano has said it contracts gambling overall.
State Rep. Mike La Rosa, the House panel’s chair, was hopeful about reaching compromise, though he made clear the Senate would have to vastly change its position.
“I think their expansion and where they’re going with it would be a non-starter here,” the St. Cloud Republican told reporters after the meeting. 
For example, the House outlaws designated-player card games, but the Senate would let “all cardroom operators … offer designated player games,” and the House would prohibit the expansion of slot machines, while the Senate generally expands the availability of slot machines. No Casinos, the anti-gambling expansion group, supports the House bill.
Moreover, the state’s cut of the Seminole gambling money – $3 billion over seven years – would go to education, split three ways among “K-12 teacher recruitment and retention bonuses,” “schools that serve students from persistently failing schools,” and “higher education institutions to recruit and retain distinguished faculty.”
But state Rep. Jared Moskowitz criticized the bill for doing exactly what the House’s GOP majority says it hates: Picking winners and losers.
“The winners are the Seminoles, and the losers are everybody else,” he said. The

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Senate readies this year’s gambling bill

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

A Senate spokeswoman on Tuesday said the chamber’s legislative package on gambling should be ready for hearing later this month.
A meeting of the Regulated Industries Committee, which oversees gambling policy, had been set for this Thursday but was cancelled.
“Based on conservations with Sen. (Bill) Galvano, President (Joe) Negron anticipates having a bill ready to be heard during the second committee week in January,” Katie Betta said in an email.
“Based on that timetable, President Negron felt that it would be more productive to cancel the workshop scheduled for this week and instead schedule a hearing when the bill is available later this month.”
The Miami Herald reported late Monday that lawmakers were close to a deal to get approval of a new agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida granting them continued exclusivity to offer blackjack and “banked card games.”
That deal would “allow owners of declining pari-mutuels to sell their permits to others who want to install slot machines at newer facilities outside of South Florida,” the paper reported.
Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, has been hammering out a deal with state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, the Miami-Dade Republican who’s the House’s point man on gambling.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran has said “we’re a very conservative chamber, and if something is going to pass … it’s going to have to be a reduction in gambling.”
The deal satisfies that condition, the Herald reported, because it “lead(s) to a net reduction of live, active (dog and horse track) permits throughout the state.”
Don’t take that bet, said Paul Seago, executive director of No Casinos.
“Slots outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties should be a non-starter,” he said. “It violates the constitution and the promise made to Florida voters when they very narrowly approved the amendment to allow them there in 2004.
“We will strongly oppose any new compact agreement that allows

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Federal judge won’t change mind on blackjack decision

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

A federal judge has rejected the state’s request to reconsider his ruling allowing the Seminole Tribe of Florida to keep blackjack at its casinos.
In a two-page order, Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle said the “original opinion correctly analyzes the issues.”
Hinkle had ruled that regulators working under Gov. Rick Scott allowed dog and horse tracks to offer card games that mimicked ones that were supposed to be exclusive to tribe-owned casinos for a five-year period.
The judge ruled that the Tribe could keep its blackjack tables till 2030. The state wanted Hinkle to instead order the tribe to remove the games.
The Tribe had said Hinkle properly found that those games, known as designated player games, “are ‘banked card games’ (like blackjack) based upon reasonable interpretations” of federal Indian gambling law, state law and testimony at trial, the memo says.
Hinkle has not yet ruled on a separate request by lawyers for a race track in Gretna to intervene in the case.
Attorneys David Romanik and Marc Dunbar have asked Hinkle to remove the part of his ruling they say could make it a “crime” for the track’s cardroom to continue offering certain card games. Romanik and Dunbar are part-owners of Gretna Racing.
The track has a case pending before the state Supreme Court on whether to expand slot machines in the state. Voters in Gadsden County, where the track is located, and five other counties passed local referendums to approve slots.
The Associated Press contributed to this post, reprinted with permission.
The post Federal judge won’t change mind on blackjack decision appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Gambling money still going into GR, DBPR says

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

The Seminole Tribe of Florida‘s gambling revenue share payments are continuing to go into the state’s General Revenue Fund, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation said on Wednesday.
The department, which oversees gambling, clarified its previous statements this week on how the money is handled.
The tribe is seeking to extend a compact with the state to offer exclusively offer blackjack in return for a cut of that revenue, even though a federal judge ruled the state broke the original deal and the tribe can offer “banked card games” through 2030.
“As further evidence of its positive approach, the Tribe is continuing to make monthly payments to the state that will total $306 million this year,” spokesman Gary Bitner has said.
The Seminoles “remit revenue share payments through the Department of Revenue’s (DOR) online portal, which provides web services for electronic fund payments,” DBPR spokesman Stephen Lawson said.
“Through an automated process, DBPR is notified of the payment,” he added. “DBPR receipts and assigns the payment for credit to the General Revenue Fund, as required” by state law.
“Once credited to the General Revenue Fund, the authorization and use of funds are outlined” by another section of state law, Lawson said. “The General Revenue Fund is administered by the State Treasury, within the Department of Financial Services.”
Senior U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle last month ruled the compact “afforded the tribe the right to conduct banked card games without competition from card rooms” at pari-mutuels, meaning dog and horse tracks.
“This was perhaps the most important benefit the tribe obtained under the compact,” he wrote in his order. “The most important benefit to the state was more than a billion dollars.”
The original deal actually wound up being worth more than $200 million per year in revenue share to state coffers. Blackjack and other gambling, including slots, has brought in billions for the tribe, making it arguably the

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Where’s the Seminoles’ gambling money? State’s not clear

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

A state agency that reports to Gov. Rick Scott isn’t clear on the location of millions of dollars the Seminole Tribe says it’s still ponying up from its gambling operations.
A spokesman for the tribe last week said they have a “continuing desire to finalize a new gaming (agreement) with the state of Florida” that includes continued exclusive rights to offer blackjack.
“As further evidence of its positive approach, the Tribe is continuing to make monthly payments to the state that will total $306 million this year,” Gary Bitner said.
What wasn’t clear was what the state was doing with that money.
A recent request for explanation to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), which regulates gambling, was responded to with a chart showing past payments and projected future payments.
(When asked whether those payments would end if no new agreement is approved this year, Bitner said, “As has been noted many times, it is the Tribe’s policy to not discuss the specific content of its compact negotiations with the state.”)

Those payments “are made to the Department of Revenue,” according to a DBPR statement, “which should be able to provide more information about the types of accounts those funds are deposited into.”
Revenue, however, responded with puzzlement.
“The Florida Department of Revenue does not post, reconcile or distribute Indian gaming revenues shared with the State of Florida under the Compact,” its statement said.
In fact, state law “specifies that the (official) compliance agency (DBPR’s Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering) is designated as the state agency having the authority to carry out the state’s oversight responsibilities under the Compact,” the statement added.
“They are the best resource on this,” it said.
A request for clarification to the Governor’s Office is pending.
 
The post Where’s the Seminoles’ gambling money? State’s not clear appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Seminoles still paying state blackjack money—for now

Thursday, December 8th, 2016

A Seminole Tribe of Florida spokesman Thursday declined comment on whether the tribe would stop payment to the state from its blackjack revenue.
A source close to the tribe told FloridaPolitics.com on Wednesday that it’s considering not paying “one more dollar” to the state treasury without a new gambling agreement. According to a federal judge, it doesn’t have to.
Coincidentally, Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen, the tribe’s general counsel Jim Shore and others were in Tallahassee Monday for meetings, including a sit-down with Gov. Rick Scott.
Spokesman Gary Bitner said the meeting was “part of their ongoing effort and continuing desire to finalize a new gaming compact with the state of Florida.”
“As further evidence of its positive approach, the Tribe is continuing to make monthly payments to the state that will total $306 million this year,” he said.
When asked whether those payments would end if no new agreement is approved this year, Bitner said, “As has been noted many times, it is the Tribe’s policy to not discuss the specific content of its compact negotiations with the state.”
A representative for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates gambling in the state, has not yet responded to a request for comment.
The state and tribe struck a long-term deal—the 2010 Seminole Compact—that included a provision, expired last year, giving the Seminoles exclusive rights to offer blackjack in return for revenue share to the state. That meant more than $200 million per year.
Scott and tribal representatives agreed on a new deal for continued rights to blackjack in exchange for $3 billion over seven years.
That agreement couldn’t get to either floor for a vote last Legislative Session. It contained provisions that would have allowed the tribe to also offer craps and roulette—that is, more games. And lawmakers with dog and horse tracks in their districts tacked

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Rick Scott mum on meeting with Seminole Tribe

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott Tuesday held his cards close to his vest about the future of a gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen, general counsel Jim Shore and others were in Tallahassee Monday for meetings.  
Scott, who spoke with reporters after a Florida Cabinet meeting, didn’t get into specifics of his meeting with them.
“We’ll continue to look at what the right thing is for the state of Florida,” Scott said. “We’ll be looking at what we do next. The Legislature didn’t pass it last year. So we’ll continue to work with legislators, and see what their interests are.”
The state and tribe struck a long-term deal in 2010—the Seminole Compact—that included a provision, expired last year, giving the Seminoles exclusive rights to offer blackjack for five years in return for revenue share to the state. That meant more than $200 million per year.
Scott and tribal representatives then agreed on a new deal for continued rights to blackjack in exchange for $3 billion over seven years. But that agreement couldn’t get to either floor for a vote last Legislative Session; it contained provisions that would have allowed the tribe to also offer craps and roulette—that is, more games.
Senate President Joe Negron recently said he backs its passage, but added he was comfortable with related initiatives seen as an expansion of gambling, such as local initiatives to allow slot machines.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, on the other hand, has said “we’re a very conservative chamber, and if something is going to pass it will have to be conservative. It’s going to have to be a reduction in gambling.”
Negron countered: “I’m optimistic that we can work together with our colleagues in the House and ratify a compact so the state has predictability in revenue.”
But the state’s leverage went down after a

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Joe Negron will support new Seminole Compact next session

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016

Answering a $3 billion question, Senate President Joe Negron Tuesday said he backed passage next session of a renewed gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Negron
But Negron also said he was comfortable with related initiatives gambling opponents have said constitute an expansion of gambling in the Sunshine State.
For instance, regarding counties that pass local referendums to allow slot machines, the Stuart Republican said he would “personally feel obligated to defer to that.”
“We also need to be fair to other participants in the gaming industry, the pari-mutuels and others, to make sure that they’re treated fairly,” he said.
That doesn’t square with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who on Monday said “we’re a very conservative chamber, and if something is going to pass it will have to be conservative. It’s going to have to be a reduction in gambling.”
Negron countered: “I’m optimistic that we can work together with our colleagues in the House and ratify a compact so the state has predictability in revenue.”
The state and tribe struck a long-term deal in 2010 that included a provision, which expired last year, giving the Seminoles exclusive rights to offer blackjack for five years. That equated to more than $200 million per year.
Gov. Rick Scott and tribal representatives then agreed on a new deal for continued rights to blackjack in exchange for $3 billion over seven years in revenue share to the state.
But that agreement couldn’t even get to either floor for a vote last session; it contained provisions that would have allowed the tribe to also offer craps and roulette — that is, more games.
Some lawmakers also tacked on measures to help pari-mutuels — horse and dog tracks — giving slot machines and card games to more of them outside South Florida. With many legislators averse to expanding gambling, the compact died.
The tribe’s

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In precarious position, Seminole Tribe picks new leader

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

A month after ousting their last leader, the Seminole Tribe of Florida on Tuesday announced it had selected Marcellus W. Osceola Jr. as its new chairman.
He replaces James E. Billie. The tribe’s governing council removed Billie last month, citing disagreements over “policies and procedures.” Osceola’s selection was Monday.
Billie actually ran for his job again, coming in second with 297 votes to Osceola’s 319 votes out of 843 cast.
The election comes as the tribe awaits the verdict in a federal trial that could determine the future of its finances.
Osceola “is a 44-year-old entrepreneur who lives on the Hollywood Seminole Reservation,” according to a press release.
“… (H)e was previously elected to serve on both the governing Tribal Council of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Board of Directors of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc., which manages most non-gaming business interests of the Tribe.”
The tribe has had its share of ups and downs lately.
It “operates a business empire that began with the sale of tax-free cigarettes in the 1970s and expanded to include hotels, citrus groves, tourist attractions, and Seminole Hard Rock casinos throughout South Florida,” according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Earlier this month, the tribe consolidated its control over the Hard Rock hotel and casino brand, buying out the remaining rights from the owner-operator of Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The terms were not made public.
But the Seminoles also are awaiting a decision by a federal judge as to whether they can keep offering blackjack to their casino customers.
They say they can specifically because the state allowed pari-mutuel card rooms to offer designated-player games. That broke an exclusivity promise the tribe had with the state, they say.
Card games generate just under 20 percent of the tribe’s total gambling revenue, which is up to $1 billion yearly just at the Tampa location.
And this summer, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand an appeals court ruling that the tribe has

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Blackjack trial comes to close as judge questions state’s case

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

A federal judge shellacked an attorney for the state of Florida during closing arguments Friday in a trial over whether the Seminole Tribe gets to continue offering blackjack to its casino customers.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle peppered the state’s counsel with questions about whether gambling regulators basically allowed the state’s non-tribal cardrooms to offer games that broke the exclusive rights to blackjack promised to the Seminoles in 2010.
At issue was a 2011 administrative rule allowing what’s now known as “designated player games.” The tribe says they operate too much like, if not identically to, games like blackjack that are “banked card games.”
That means players compete against only another player called the “bank” — usually, but not always, the casino itself or the “house” — but not as in traditional poker where players all compete against each other.
Blackjack and other gambling, including slots, has brought in billions for the tribe, making it arguably the richest American Indian tribe in the country.
“If I find that the rule authorizes a game that is a banked game, then the tribe can keep offering banking games for 20 years,” Hinkle asked Anne-Leigh Gaylord Moe, a lawyer with the Bush Ross law firm hired by the state. The Seminole Compact provides for the tribe to keep its blackjack tables if the state allows others the same games.
Challenged by Moe that the rule in question didn’t allow that, Hinkle suggested moving to another issue: “You’re not going to win that argument; you’re just not.”
One gambling regulator suggested in a deposition that higher-ups at the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) had essentially approved a banked game for the Daytona cardroom, though Deputy Secretary Jonathan Zachem disputed that in testimony Tuesday.
With her closing argument time dwindling, Moe stuck to the rule issue, with the caveat that she wasn’t trying to “aggravate the court.” Hinkle responded with a grin: “You’re not going to aggravate

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Trial over Seminole casinos to wrap up Wednesday

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

A crucial federal trial that could shape of the future of gambling in Florida is wrapping up.
Attorneys for the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state will give their closing arguments Wednesday.
The second day of trial on Tuesday revolved primarily around the testimony of top gambling regulators. The trial could decide whether the tribe can continue to have blackjack tables at their Florida casinos.
The state and Seminoles reached a deal in 2010 that allowed blackjack but that provision expired last year. Florida has been paid nearly $1.7 billion as a result.
The tribe maintains they are eligible to keep blackjack because the state allowed dog and horse tracks to operate card games that mimicked what the tribe offered.
Regulators blamed low-level employees and confusion for some of the decisions that the tribe is going after in the lawsuit.
The post Trial over Seminole casinos to wrap up Wednesday appeared first on Florida Politics.

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Seminole Gaming CEO says Dana Young skipped out on blackjack talks

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

The head of the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s gambling operations Monday testified that the Florida House’s Republican Leader disengaged in 2015 during blackjack renewal talks.
The next thing Jim Allen knew, state Rep. Dana Young of Tampa was announcing her own legislative package, an overhaul of state gambling law that cut out the tribe.
Based on her bills, “there clearly seemed to be an intention to expand gaming in the state,” said Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming.
Allen testified during this week’s trial between the tribe and the state over the Seminoles continuing to offer blackjack to its casino customers across Florida. A five-year provision expired last July.
As part of his testimony on renewing the Seminole Compact, Allen told the story of talks beginning last year with state Sen. Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, and Young, then the point people for their respective chambers on gambling. Bradley chaired the Senate Regulated Industries committee.
Gov. Rick Scott, who eventually negotiated a deal with the tribe worth $3 billion over seven years, told the tribe to get legislative buy-in early on. Otherwise, keeping exclusive rights to offer blackjack in Florida “would be problematic,” Allen testified.
At an initial meeting, the legislative leaders told Allen, “Give us your wish list,” which he took as meaning their desired financial terms. Without getting into details, he said he did so.
“We were certainly hopeful we would get a response, but we never did,” Allen said on the witness stand.
In early March of that year, the day before the start of the 2015 Legislative Session, Young rolled out four bills totaling 332 pages that, among other things, would have allowed two destination resort casinos in South Florida and let dog tracks stop live racing but continue to offer slots.
The legislation also would have created a statewide

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Seminole Tribe now fully controls Hard Rock brand

Saturday, October 1st, 2016

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has consolidated its control over the “Hard Rock” hotel and casino brand, buying out the remaining rights from the owner-operator of Las Vegas’ Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.
The deal was announced Friday in a news release. The terms were not made public.
The acquisition means “the Hard Rock brand has now been united for the first time in more than 35 years under one controlling ownership,” said Jim Allen, Hard Rock International’s chairman and Seminole Gaming CEO.
The tribe, which controls Hard Rock International, bought the casino and hotel-casino rights in the western United States, as well as Australia, Brazil, Israel, Venezuela and the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. 
That means “Hard Rock International is now exclusively entitled to develop, own, license, franchise and manage Hard Rock Casinos and Hotel-Casinos” in those areas, the release said.
In late 2006, the tribe bought Hard Rock International, the 45-year-old rock ‘n’ roll-themed brand of restaurants, hotels and casinos. It operates the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood.
BREF HR, LLC affiliates, who sold the right, will continue to own and operate the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.
As part of the deal, Hard Rock International assumed licensing control over Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nevada; Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Sioux City, Iowa; Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Hard Rock Casino Vancouver, B.C..
“Hard Rock International also acquired certain memorabilia, bringing the total to more than 81,000 pieces globally,” the release said. An Eric Clapton guitar was the first in the collection.
“Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos growing portfolio consists of 23 hotels and resorts, as well as (more than) 160+ Hard Rock Cafes, among other Hard Rock venues in more than 71 countries,” according to the release.
Earlier this week, the tribe removed James E. Billie as chairman, citing “various issues with policies and procedures of the chairman’s office.”
The

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