Seminole Hard Rock Casino
Anyone with a fundamental understanding of federal Indian law would have recognized that Florida Governor Charlie Crist?s Compact with the Seminole Tribe granting them the use of Las Vegas style slot machines as well as table games such as Black Jack and 21 violated Federal Law. The 1988 Indian Gaming Act allows tribes to operate only those games allowed under a State law, even if they are just allowed for charitable purposes. Florida State law does not allow banked card games such as Black Jack or 21 for anyone, and thus, Governor Crist overreached when he authorized the Seminoles to operate such games. The Florida State Supreme Court ruled last week that the Crist/Seminole Compact violated State law because the Compact was not approved by the Legislature and the Governor authorized the tribe to conduct games not allowed under State law. Needless to say, the Seminoles who got this bad news on the eve of the 4th of July weekend and will stall the shutdown of the table games. Because of a non-severability clause in the Compact, once the Court rejected the legality of the table games, the Compact for slot machines, which pays the state 20% of revenues to the State, was also thrown out. Attorney Barry Richards was wrong when he told the Miami Herald that the games currently being conducted at the seven Seminole casinos across Florida are not illegal. Governor Crist and the Seminoles clearly agree that Class III Las Vegas style slot machines are legal for the Indians to operate with a Compact since the Constitutional Amendment legalizing them for pari-mutuels was passed. Crist should side step the table game controversy and press the Seminoles to negotiate a new Compact for slot machines only. The Federal lawsuit in the Federal District Court challenging the Interior Department over the legality of the games will end with a Federal Court order that US Marshals close the games and Class III machines if no new Compact for the machines is negotiate which is the only way the Seminoles will ultimately throw in the towel in this current controversy.