Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Seminole Tribe vows to oppose resort-casinos proposal

TALLAHASSEE — The chairman of the Seminole Tribe broke his silence and vowed to oppose any effort to bring new resort casinos to Florida because they would end the tribe's gambling monopoly and breach its revenue-sharing agreement with the state.

"We will vigorously fight against any attack on our compact with the state,'' said James Billie, the chairman of the Broward County-based Seminole Tribe, in a statement. "We urge Florida legislators to step forward in support of our compact and refuse to pass any legislation that violates contractual agreements with the Seminole Tribe."

In 2010, the state entered into a compact with the Seminoles that gives the tribe the exclusive right to operate Las Vegas-style slot machines and table games such as baccarat and blackjack in Miami-Dade and Broward counties — where the tribe faces competition from pari-mutuel "racinos" — as well as exclusive rights to operate table games and slots at tribal facilities outside the two counties, including in Hillsborough County.

In exchange, the tribe agreed to pay the state at least $1 billion over five years, beginning with two $150 million payments and increasing to $233 million in 2012. In the fifth year, the state must return to the negotiating table with the tribe over the table games.

But Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff and Rep. Erik Fresen, who drafted the current resort-casino legislation, now say it was a mistake to have given the tribe the monopoly.

The two lawmakers have filed a bill that would allow for three "destination resort" casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward. Bogdanoff, who voted for the compact with the Seminoles, said the state would be better off if it paved the way for the tribe to have competition.

"Monopolies are a bad thing. Gaming monopolies are toxic,'' Bogdanoff, a Fort Lauderdale Republican, told reporters last week. "For the economic and political health of this state, we need to have competition in that field."

Fresen, a Republican from Miami who voted against the compact as a freshman legislator, called the compact an attempt to "buy a monopoly on the cheap."

"I never felt the compact was worth the paper it was printed on,'' he said last week. "And here's why: That compact was essentially drafted, kind of slammed down our throats … to help us with our budget shortfall.'' But it was loaded with so many provisions that it left no room for the state to allow for any competition, he said.

Since then, the state Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering, which regulates horse and dog tracks and jai alai frontons, has issued two new gambling permits to a racetrack in Gadsden County and an additional jai alai permit to Magic City Casino in Miami, which operates Flagler Dog Track.

Owners of both of the permits believe that the measure allows them to apply to the state for a slot-machines permit, based on newly emerging case law, a move that would violate provisions in the tribal compact.

The compact requires that the tribe's payments be reduced if competition in Miami-Dade and Broward lowers its profits.

The tribe's statement, which was released Thursday, said it objected to Bogdanoff and Fresen's "insulting comments" and called them out for "trivializing the value of the 20-year exclusive Compact."

"I don't believe those legislators have ever read our compact,'' Billie said. "Those comments are incorrect and inappropriate. They stir up the issue, rather than explain the facts."

Seminole Tribe officials are urging state gaming regulators to move cautiously.

"Rumors and hopes of casinos seem to be exploding all over the state,'' said Tony Sanchez Jr., the tribe's president. "It is time for both the tribe and the state to protect our mutual interests, as defined by the compact."

Seminole Tribe vows to oppose resort-casinos proposal 11/11/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 11, 2011 11:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  2. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  3. Romano: When a life is more valuable than an arrest

    Public Safety

    Before examining the details, let's propose a question:

    This is a handout request to accompany school portraits of Joey Boylan, who died of a drug overdose and who is being written about in John Romano's column for Sunday. We'd like to run a mug of Joey with the column. Any of the first three attached pictures would be fine to use. We don't need them all. Just pick your favorite portrait and put that in the system. Thanks.
  4. Bono visits with former President George W. Bush

    Blogs

    A surprising photo showed up Friday on former President George W. Bush's Instagram feed. Apparently Bono made a visit to the ranch.

    Former President George W. Bush and Bono.
  5. After trip's final day, Trump to return to tumult at home

    National

    TAORMINA, Italy — Down to the final day of his lengthy first international trip, President Donald Trump will lift off for Washington having rattled some allies and reassured others, returning to a White House that sits under a cloud of scandal.

    G7 leaders sign the G7 Taormina Statement on the Fight Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism at the G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy on Friday.  (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)