The state of Florida usually celebrates its Native American heritage. After all, the Seminole tribe is the only tribe still in existence that is uniquely Floridian. Runaway slaves and Native Americans make up the Seminoles. They lived in the swamps of Florida. Both hid in the woods to escape those who expected them to work without being paid.
The state celebrates them in museums and historical markers. FSU uses the Seminoles as the name for its football team.
However, the state and the Seminole tribe are at odds. They are not fighting over land. Instead, they are fighting over something much more important — gambling rights.
The Tribe’s Business
The Seminoles were one of the first tribes to consider gambling as a way to earn money for tribal programs. The tribe wanted money for its social programs, job service programs, and educational programs. The Seminoles began with a string of bingo parlors and, gradually, moved into casinos. The Seminoles bought the Hard Rock franchise, and, now, it owns casinos and restaurants in 74 countries. There are 185 restaurants, 12 casinos, and 25 hotels. The tribe’s revenue each year is around $12 billion.
The Problems with Florida
The Seminole Tribe currently operates seven casinos in Florida. They are the only casinos operating in the state. The casinos operate under the Federal Tribal Gaming Act, which allows Native American tribes to open casinos. The state of Florida currently does not get any of the revenue. Many Florida legislators want to change that. They don’t believe the Seminole tribe should get to keep all of its revenue. However, the state can’t touch any of the revenue unless the tribe lets it. Florida has argued the tribe should have to contribute some of its revenue toward the state.
The Attempt at an Agreement
The ongoing struggle between the tribe and the state has only gotten more complicated since November. In November, Floridians approved a constitutional amendment that says voters must approve any new casinos in the state. However, that doesn’t apply to the tribe because federal law governs it. Each entity has something the other wants. The tribe wants to expand into other forms of gambling, such as online or mobile gaming and sportsbooks. It also wants to be able to build more casinos. However, the state wants a cut of the tribe’s gambling revenue in exchange for exclusivity. Neither the state nor the tribe seems willing to compromise at the moment.
There are several proposals on the table that would allow both the tribe and the state to benefit. One proposal would make tribal gaming the hub for sports betting in the state. This would allow the tribe to handle all the sports betting at parimutuel facilities and its own casinos. Another proposal would allow the tribe to offer card games at different locations throughout the state. The state would collect a percentage of the revenue. However, the tribe said Florida has already agreed to allow it exclusive rights to card games in the state. Florida says the tribe is wrong. It didn’t promise exclusivity.
The state of Florida and the Seminoles are trying to hammer out an agreement. They are facing stiff opposition from people who do not want any more gambling in the state. This is especially true in the northern part of the state. North Florida is more conservative than the southern part of the state. The opponents to gambling have said they will fight any agreement between the state and the tribe. It remains unclear if the state of Florida and the tribe can come to an agreement. If they can, it will be something that benefits both entities.
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