- The Seminole tribe has brazenly introduced table games to two more locations since Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum wrote to the National Indian Gaming Commission (pdf), appealing for help in shutting them down.
Shawn Pensoneau, spokesman for the National Indian Gaming Commission -- which has the power to regulate Indian gaming -- said on Thursday that the agency is still studying the Supreme Court decision that declared the compact agreement invalid.So McCollum has now asked a federal prosecutor to initiate criminal proceedings to "put an end to the calculated illegal expansion of class III gaming by the tribe." As you may know, the tribes operate in a legal netherworld of their own, immune from state law and perhaps federal as well; recall that a judge, in rejecting a suit by the Pompano Park racino, noted that the tribe can't be sued for any reason in any court in the country!
Penny Coleman, the agency's general counsel, noted in an Oct. 3 letter to McCollum that the court "did not order any party to take specific action and did not specifically declare the previously executed tribal-state compact invalid." [Miami Herald]
"In my constitutional role as Florida's chief legal officer, I am deeply concerned that the Tribe continues to defiantly ignore the decision of the Florida Supreme Court. There can be no dispute that operating banked card games is contrary to Florida law" [Palm Beach Post]The Seminole's attorney, Barry Richards, called the letter "pointless," which seems a sufficiently existential description considering the circumstances.
Meanwhile, the state needs the money to help close its budget deficit. The tribe has remitted some $71 million to the state thus far based on games which have been operating only since July, but the money is being held in escrow. Governor Crist wants the legislature to take up the matter of granting approval to what would likely be a renegotiated compact - a process which the governor previously bypassed, leading to the successful Supreme Court challenge - in a special session scheduled for Jan 5.
But there's a major stumbling block to any deal: the Florida House, a staunchly anti-gambling body for years. After the first meeting of its Select Committee on Seminole Indian Compact Review on Thursday, Rep. Bill Galvano, a ranking Republican, indicated House demands could be in keeping with its conservative reputation: shut down table games outside South Florida and increase the tribe's tax rate to bring it more in line with those paid by non-Indian racetracks. [Sun-Sentinal]Separately, Gulfstream Park filed what seems likely to be a futile suit in the Florida Supreme Court. According to reporter Jim Freer on Bloodhorse.com (in another fine piece of reporting on a peripheral news issue on that site), slots revenues are down 13% from July, when the games started in Hollywood Beach, through November....and you can see for yourself here (pdf document). (And to put those numbers into context, you can see that the revenue held steady over that period last year.) Of course, there's the bad economy this year to consider as well. But in any event, the pari-mutuels want some relief.
Religious conservative groups held a news conference in Tallahassee on Thursday; the coalition was led by the Florida Family Policy Council.
"Opposing gambling and it's [sic] expansion in Florida will be our number one legislative priority in 2009. Gambling can be an addictive force that is responsible for countless destroyed marriages, broken families and devastated lives who [sic] become ensnared in the allure of games of chance."They're talking of course only about countless destroyed marriages between a man and a woman. You can find their position on same-sex marriage on their website:
Allowing so-called "gay marriages" would inflict a vast-untested social experiment on children. This threat must be understood and taken seriously. The ramifications to the culture, society, children and the church are serious and far reaching.Perhaps President-elect Obama wants to invite these nuts to his inauguration too.