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Isle Casino Files Case Against Seminole Tribe to Stop Blackjack and Other Card Games

On June 6th, 2008, the Isle Casino facility in Pompano Park is suing the Seminole Tribe to stop the tribe from offering card games like blackjack at their Hard Rock casino facility in Hollywood, alleging that blackjack is not legal under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

On November 2007, Governor Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe signed a 25 year gaming compact agreement that will allow the tribe to offer class III games like blackjack, poker and others and Las Vegas style slot machines on their seven casino facilities in Florida. The tribe has to pay $100 million annually to the state in exchange for the gaming compact approval.

The U.S. Department of Interior has approved of the gambling compact on January and the Seminole Tribe is planning to start offering the card games by the end of the month. In the lawsuit filed before the Northern District of Florida against Governor Crist and U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, Isle casino claims that blackjack, poker, baccarat and other card games-which give permission to players to play against the house rather than against one another-are not allowed in Florida so it breaks the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which only permits games that are already allowed in the state.

The lawsuit also claims that Governor Crist exceeded his power when he approved of the gaming compact unilaterally. Pompano Park commented that they will also loss a lot of customers and profits if the Seminole Tribe is allowed to offer the card games. Governor Crist's press secretary Sterling Ivey commented that they are still studying the lawsuit and will decide the appropriate action on the matter.

Seminole Spokesperson Gary Bitner commented that they will continue with their plan to offer blackjack at their Hard Rock casino by the end of June and has already hired 700 blackjack dealers to assist customers.

Aside from the current lawsuit, the gambling compact is also facing the lawsuit that was filed by the state House and Speaker Marco Rubio, who alleged that Gov. Crist should first ask their opinion on the matter. The state Supreme Court of Florida reviewed the case on January 30th, 2008 and has not yet made a final decision.


By Tim Arnell,
Sunday, June 22 , 2008