Seminole Tribe Stops Monthly Payments to State Due to Gaming Exclusivity Rights Issue

This week, the Seminole Tribe of Florida provided notification to Governor Ron DeSantis that they will stop making their monthly payments from gaming revenues to the state. The payments have been made due to the tribe having exclusive rights to certain games. The tribe has decided to stop making payments due to the legislative negotiations failing yet again.

The Tribe stated that they believe their compact and related legislation that was created in the Senate would have resolved the issue involving certain card games and their exclusivity rights. A decision would have been mutually beneficial for the state and the tribe. The governor has decided to take more time to review the issues and discussions will begin again in the summer months.

For now, the Tribe will suspend their revenue share payments until the banked card game issue has a resolution. This could be a loss of $350 million for the state if facilities such as parimutuels, horse tracks, dog tracks and jai alai facilities do not stop offering card games that the tribe feels infringes on their exclusive rights to certain gambling games.

Based on their compact, the Tribe has an exclusive right to offer banked card games. These games are those where players wager against the house and the house covers the bets. The Tribe says that other gaming operators like the pari-mutuels are offering the same type of games. The pari-mutuel facilities are allowed to offer non-banked games such as poker. In these types of games, the player are betting against each other and the winnings are taken from a common pot.

To get around the Tribe’s exclusivity, the pari-mutuels decided to create player-banked games where the players take turns as the dealer and the person would be covering all bets of the hand. Once the tribe found that the facilities had someone from the casino or another company sitting at the table, they filed a lawsuit.

The fight has been ongoing and shows no end in sight. It seems the state will be short tens of millions for now as the Tribe withholds payments until a decision can be made.

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