Update on Seminole Tribe's Class III Games

Update on Seminole Tribe's Class III Games

10/15/2008
By: H. Scott Althouse The Miami Herald reports that on October 14, 2008, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum renewed his call for the National Indian Gaming Commission ("NIGC") to shut down blackjack tables and Class III slot machines currently in operation at the Seminole Tribe's Hollywood, FL based Hard Rock Casino. Three months after the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Governor Charlie Crist lacked authority to sign a Tribal-State Gaming Compact without legislative approval, the Seminole Tribe continues to take the position that their compact is valid, and the Tribe might soon open blackjack tables at its other casinos, including Coconut Creek and Seminole Casino Hollywood. Last November, Governor Crist entered into a 25-year agreement with the Seminole Tribe that allowed it to offer Class III slot machines and the exclusive right to blackjack and other banked card games in Florida in exchange for at least $100 million payment to the state each year. However, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the Governor lacked authority to execute the compact without legislative approval. See Governor Crist and Seminole Tribe Ask Florida Supreme Court to Reconsider Gaming Compact. On September 25, 2008, NIGC Chairman Phil Hogan requested the Tribe to provide a detailed legal explanation and analysis concerning the Tribe's continued operation of Class III games despite the Florida Supreme Court ruling. The Tribe has been given a soft October 17, 2008 deadline to express its intentions regarding the continued play or discontinuation of the Class III gaming. On October 4, 2008, the NIGC wrote a letter to the Florida Attorney General, notifying that office that the NIGC was still studying Mr. McCullom's request for a temporary closure order. However, NIGC Acting General Counsel Penny Coleman noted the Florida Supreme Court "did not order any party to take specific action and did not specifically declare the previously executed tribal-state compact invalid." The Attorney General's most recent remarks state that because the Florida Supreme Court ruled that Gov. Charlie Crist did not have the authority to allow the Tribe to operate card games when he signed the compact last year, the Tribe's games are illegal and should be shut down. McCollum added that the Tribe was not a party to the lawsuit brought by House Speaker Marco Rubio that asked the court to rule on whether Governor Crist had the power to enter into the compact without legislative approval: "There was simply nothing that the Court could have ordered the Governor of Florida to do, especially given his lack of authority in this area," McCollum wrote.
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