Thursday, January 14, 2010

Florida Lawmakers Ask Feds To Shut Down Seminole Indian´s Blackjack Games, Controversy Over Definition Of Blackjack

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Florida´s House of Representatives have asked the federal government to shut down blackjack games they say are being run illegaly at Seminole Indian casinos in Florida but the Seminoles claim that the live blackjack they offer is no different than the virtual blackjack already allowed by the state at non-Indian pari-mutuel facilities.

Federally recognized Indian tribes are allowed to offer any type of gambling that is permitted by the state, except for the Narragansett Indians in Rhode Island who were specifically excluded from gaming.

The National Indian Gaming Commission is expected make a deterination on the Seminole blackjack controversy. Should the NIGC rule that the virtual blackjack game operates on the same principle as a slot machine then the Seminoles could be dealt a setback in their compact and revenue sharing negotiations with the state.

The Seminoles introduced blackjack into three of their casinos in 2008 after a compact was negotiated with the governor in 2007. That compact was later struck down by the Florida Supreme Court because it allowed the Seminoles to operate games that were not legal in the state, such as blackjack.

The Seminole Tribe has seven casinos in southern Florida and the Miccosukee Tribe operates one casino in Miami.

Governor Charlie Crist´s former chief of staff George LeMieux, who has represented the governor in the talks, raised concerns last summer that if a deal wasn´t reached with the Seminoles, the federal government could give the Seminoles everything they want and the state would not share in the revenue generated by the Seminole casinos.

LeMieux also told the Herald Times then, "What's at stake here is whether we are going to have limited gaming in Florida," he said. "If we do not approve a compact, I'm concerned the future of Florida is casinos in every part of our state."

"There's a chance we're going to be back in the wild, wild West," if the feds agree to the games already being run by the Seminoles Lemieux added.