Florida Seminole Tribe to Seek Compact through Secretarial Procedures

From the Orlando Sentinel:

After the Legislature voted down a proposed revenue-sharing deal Thursday, the Seminole Tribe will now turn to the federal government for authority to run its casinos that feature slots and blackjack, tribe attorney Barry Richard said in an interview.

Richard said that the tribe remains open to negotiate more with the Legislature, but “we’ve reached the conclusion that it’s time to begin looking at other options.”

“We made a vigorous effort to work this out,” he said. “We had two separate compacts with the governor. We made giant strides toward negotiation with the Legislature. It’s disappointing – the tribe can’t continue to wait forever.”

The tribe will enter a formal process known as “procedures,” in which it will ask the federal government for authorization to keep its blackjack tables open, even though there’s no compact in place to allow such table games.

Lawyers for the state Legislature and the tribe’s main competitors, pari-mutuel businesses, think the tribe won’t get blackjack from the federal government, since blackjack is illegal in Florida. Richard disagrees and he said the “coup de grace” is that South Florida tracks now have virtual blackjack, where players sit around a TV screen and play an eletronic version.

“This is an additional factor that is, in our mind, conclusive,” Richard said. “It’s actually the same as the real thing, except the dealers are good looking women (on the TV screen). You can split your aces – you can do everything you can do in blackjack.”

Virtual blackjack are technically slot machines, with winners chosen from a random number generator. But the tribe is entitled to any game that’s legal anywhere else in Florida, so the question will turn on whether virtual blackjack is more like a slot or live dealer version.