Legislators Should Not Reward Seminole Tribe’s Threats

No Casinos President John Sowinski made the following statement regarding the release of a five-page letter from the Seminole Tribe of Florida to Governor Scott and leaders of the Florida House and Senate.
“The Seminole Tribe’s letter is a perfect reminder that gambling has become a political, rather than a legal, proposition.  The Tribe should re-think its approach, instead of breaking faith with the people of Florida.

The banked card games portion of the compact expires on July 31st, and without a renewal of this portion, the Tribe is legally required to cease banked card game operations by the end of October.

We share the Tribe’s political view that some South Florida pari-mutuels are operating beyond the intent of voters and legislators with regard to slot machines that resemble other Class III games, and believe that legislators should reign in slots and card games.  But we disagree with the Tribe’s assertion that these games constitute a violation of the compact.  We also find it curious that the Tribe didn’t seek remedies available under the compact years ago if it thought the state was violating the compact.

Given the facts and the timing, we see the Tribe’s letter as a negotiating tactic masquerading as legal analysis, and share Senator Galvano’s assessment that this is part of the Tribe’s effort to force the State back to the negotiating table.

Legislators should not reward the Tribe’s threats, or its apparent willingness to violate the compact’s expiration date.  Lawmakers should also take note of the irony that the Tribe is attempting to do the very thing its letter raises concerns about – allow gambling operations beyond the limits of what lawmakers intended.

When it comes to gambling, you can’t expand it – even by a little – without somebody, someday using it as an excuse to expand gambling even more.”