The Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida is installing 1,000 new, Las Vegas style slot machines in its Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood, Florida and will be active on Monday the 28th of January.
This is a curious development of the gambling situation in the State. On Tuesday, the 29th, a court is to hear arguments that have been brought by the State Legislature.
Their claim is that the Governor, Charlie Crist, had no right to enter into such a deal with the Indians without approval by the Legislature.
If the court agrees, the Seminoles may be forced to remove the new slot machines and revert back to the bingo-style machines currently in use.
The Seminoles have defended their position by claiming that not only did the governor enter into this agreement on behalf of the State, but the Department of the Interior has approved the compact.
The Seminoles have already given the State the first $50 million promised as part of a $375 million three year deal. The revenue that will be generated beyond the first three years may well be substantially higher, and is guaranteed to be at least $100 million annually.
Seminole Tribe Spokesman, Gary Bitner, discussing the installation of the new machines said “This is only being done because the machines became available so quickly and nobody expected that.”
As of now, the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood is the only one of the seven casinos the tribe operates that will have these Las Vegas style slots.
“Today’s news, while disappointing, is not surprising, even though the public was previously reassured the Seminole Tribe had no intention of so quickly taking actions they announced today,” said Bill McCollum, Florida’s attorney general.
He went on to say, “While we await a decision on the validity of the compact, I encourage the Supreme Court to take into consideration the statements and actions by the parties involved.” McCollum unsuccessfully sued the Indians last month to stop the compacts approval.
Barry Richard, an attorney for the Seminoles said that “The tribe has a right to proceed, and in fact, they have an obligation to proceed because every day they don’t, the state loses money, the tribe has already given the state $50 million and they are just doing what they’ve already agreed to do.”