Broward News

Seminole Tribe Drops Lawsuit After Politico Publishes Old News

The website Politico hustled out a story today with this news flash: HEY! THE SEMINOLES MAKE A LOT OF MONEY! The tribe then dropped a lawsuit it had filed just two days before to keep the information from going public.

See, back in 2010 when the Seminoles and the state reached a $1 billion compact, a portion of that agreement included guidelines for keeping some tribe financial info confidential. Public records requests regarding the Seminoles have routinely included redactions.

But the fact is, we pretty much know how the tribe is doing. I figured it out myself back in 2014, crisscrossing state and local tax documents. The state said the Seminoles made about $2.1 billion. Local government received pro-rated payments based on the profitability of the seven casinos. I had the Tampa casino making about $900 million and the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood about $528 million. Seminole CEO James Allen’s testimony didn’t even break it down by casino.

So the Seminoles’ request probably was an overreaction. Or, more likely, they were just playing hardball. Florida’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering (PMW) has had problems since Gov. Rick Scott’s former chief of staff pushed out PMW Director Milt Champion. Since then, the PMW has allowed barrel racing and been forced by legislators to flip-flop on allowing banked card games at racetrack casinos. So this whole Politico thing strikes me as a mid- to low-level foul up, with neither a great story nor great harm to the Seminoles in the cards.


The Politico story puts the tribe’s revenues at $2.4 billion, with $2.2 billion of that from gambling. That’s in line with what the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference has said. State economists gather periodically and discuss the gambling industry because they’re trying to project how much tax money they’ll be receiving. That way, the state can budget better.

Politico’s argument was that they shouldn’t be punished because they obtained the information lawfully. The article also stated that Allen, in his deposition, talked about Donald Trump.

“The Trump organization was frankly — no disrespect to what Mr. Trump presents, you know, in the media every day — was a different organization. It was very small,” he said, according to Politico.

The tribe has continued to offer blackjack and other table games since that portion of their agreement with the state expired July 31. The state is arguing the tribe should stop offering the games; the tribe argues the state did not negotiate in good faith, as required by federal law.

The tribe is also asking that racetrack casinos not be allowed to offer versions of Three Card Poker, Pai Gow, or Casino War. The state first allowed the games, then retracted; 15 racetrack casinos in Florida are ignoring the retraction, arguing that they went to the expense to set the games up in their poker rooms.

Get daily gambling news at SouthFloridaGambling.com. Follow Twitter @NickSortal.
KEEP NEW TIMES BROWARD-PALM BEACH FREE... Since we started New Times Broward-Palm Beach, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of South Florida, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Nick Sortal is South Florida’s expert journalist when it comes to the gambling scene. He covered the openings, expansions, poker tournaments, entertainment, and human-interest facets of the industry for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel from 2007 until taking a buyout in November 2015, capping a 30-year career that included state and national awards and features about naked yoga. He now writes a weekly column for the Miami Herald and also reports about gambling on his site, SouthFloridaGambling.com. The Southern Illinois native worked for papers in St. Louis and Indianapolis before joining the Sun Sentinel in 1985. He likes triathlons, country music, basketball, and bragging about his family.
Contact: Nick Sortal