Seminoles Defy Florida, Add Blackjack to Immokalee Casino
While Florida lawmakers consider how to work out a new arrangement after the state Supreme Court voided a compact between Governor Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe, Seminole casinos continue to act upon the old contract. Recently, blackjack tables were introduced to the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, and yesterday the Seminole Immokalee Casino installed the popular table game.
Crist's compact with the tribe gave them exclusive rights in the state to blackjack and other table games, in exchange for which the tribe, previously untaxed at their reservation casinos, agreed to pay the state upwards of $100 million. But the state legislature balked at the deal, saying Crist had overstepped his authority by acting unilaterally. The court agreed, nullifying the arrangement.
But the Seminoles insist they are not covered by state jurisdiction, and thus the state Supreme Court cannot rule on their deals. The tribe says the compact was published in the National Register, and that means the terms are established unless the federal government says otherwise.
At the time of the court decision, blackjack tables and other games, such as Pai-Gow and baccarat, had already been placed at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood. Despite the court reversal, the tribe elected to keep the tables running. Since then, the new tables have been placed in Tampa and Immokalee.
While the debut of blackjack in Hollywood was created into a major media event, with Carmen Electra playing the official first hand and dozens of celebrities in attendance for the opening party, the tribe's attitude has quieted since the court ruled. New installations have been done with little fanfare, and demonstrate the Seminoles' policy of presenting Florida with a fait accompli.
Rumor has it that blackjack and the other table games will be hitting the Seminole Coconut Creek Casino next, as dealers have been hired and trained, and other additional staff has also been put in place in anticipation of increased business.
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