Column: So much for a Class III casino deal with Seminole Tribe

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Tampa, Florida
A view of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Tampa, Florida. Photo from Facebook

Columnist Fred Grimm looks at the shaky state of Class III gaming compact negotiations between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe:
We were already wallowing in an illogical muck when a three-judge panel from Florida’s First District Court of Appeal added to the chaos. On May 29, the court issued a 2-1 opinion allowing a sorry excuse for a racetrack up in rural Gadsden County to set up a slot machine emporium.

Back in 2012, voters in Gadsden (about 20 miles west of Tallahassee) approved a slot machine referendum. Which at the time, seemed no more than a symbolic gesture. Because state law clearly limited slot machines to racinos in Mami-Dade and Broward County and the Seminole Tribe casinos.

Besides, the Seminoles have been paying the state at least $234 million a year to keep it that way.

But the appeal court panel cited some vague wording in state gaming law and decided that the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation had wrongly denied Gretna Racing a slot machine license.

Gadsden County’s only the first domino about to topple. Voters in five other counties — Palm Beach, Brevard, Hamilton, Lee and Washington — also approved slot referendums.

If this ruling holds, so much for the Seminole gaming compact. Under the agreement, the tribe can quit making those hefty annual payments to the state if parimutuels outside Broward and Miami-Dade counties start operating slots.

Get the Story:
Fred Grimm: If Florida had an actual gaming policy, it would be in big trouble (The Miami Herald 6/11)

Florida 1st District Court of Appeal Decision:
Gretna Racing v. Department of Business and Professional Regulation Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (May 29, 2015)

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