Seminole Tribe now going after Jax 'gambling parlors' - Florida Politics

Seminole Tribe now going after Jax ‘gambling parlors’

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has filed suit against 25 operators of what’s called “electronic gambling parlors” in the Jacksonville area, saying they violate the Tribe’s deal with the state to exclusively offer Vegas-style games.

The suit was filed in Duval County Circuit Civil court last week, records show.

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The gambling parlors “infringe upon the Tribe’s right to substantial exclusivity in the operation of casino-style gambling,” says the complaint, filed by the Tribe’s outside counsel, Barry Richard of Greenberg Traurig‘s Tallahassee office.

The defendants operate outlets with names like “Fun Cade,” “Fun Spot,” and “Big Chances Internet Café,” according to the complaint. Those who could be reached Wednesday declined comment.

Richard explained that the defendants named weren’t traditional “internet cafés,” also known as “strip-mall casinos,” which were banned by the state in 2013 after a multi-state investigation netted dozens of arrests.

“Most of these places don’t even offer internet access,” he said in a phone interview. “The games they offer are resident on an in-house server. We’re talking (electronic) blackjack, all other kinds of games.

“It’s just straight-up gambling,” he added. “People are betting money to win.” The Seminoles seek a court order shutting down the parlors.

Richard said the Tribe felt compelled to sue after the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which regulates gambling, declined to police the operations because they weren’t serving alcohol.

As for local law enforcement, “it’s just not high on their priority list,” Richard added.

“Although these complaints are outside the jurisdiction of the Department, we are always willing to provide support or assistance to law enforcement where appropriate,” DBPR spokeswoman Suellen Wilkins said in an email.

Richard said the electronic gambling parlors—or EGPs—are “all over the state,” but most are concentrated in the Jacksonville area. The Tribe hired a gaming expert to go undercover and patronize the parlors, resulting in the suit.

Northeast Florida also is home of the “pre-reveal” games, slot machine-style entertainment devices, most often placed in bars. A Tallahassee judge’s ruling that they’re illegal slots is under appeal.

The Tribe zealously guards its exclusive right to offer Vegas-style gambling in Florida, including blackjack. An agreement known as the Seminole Compact generates over $200 million a year in gaming revenue share for state coffers and likely billions for the Tribe.

And Jim Shore, the Tribe’s top in-house lawyer, recently warned lawmakers that legislation explicitly authorizing fantasy sports play also would violate the Compact. Break that deal, the Tribe has said, and it’s entitled to pay the state not one more dime.

Jim Rosica covers state government from Tallahassee for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

4 Comments

  1. Please let this be the straw that breaks the compacts’ back. Keep the games playing. Are the Seminole gonna sue all of us.? Florida is taking it with No Vaseline and no safe word.

    For every dollar the state loses back to the Seminole – A quarter of that goes to the Feds. Meanwhile florida contends to be a family tourist attraction all while flooding the streets with barbiturates and disney propoganda. A family of four shouldn’t need to pay $5oo just to walk around a park for a few hours. It ain’t right what the fat rats are doing to Florida voters with this one sided seminole compact. Kill the damn thing.

    Florida is anything but conservative. Florida is a gambling state – Even if they say its illegal.

  2. Florida – Your gambling with the livelihoods of American voters. Your gonna lose again. And to the Fat Rat in Orlando – Your about to be surrounded by Slots.

  3. Well heck .. If the State depts and local police won’t uphold the law you do what you got to do.. Force them into court and flex your muscle. The Tribe can’t lose. Power and cash will crush the defense. It also puts the State on high notice for the illegal designated player games they should be aggressively removing from the racetracks. If the State doesn’t take action the Seminoles will force the issue..

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