One of the most high-profile bouts in the state of Florida is not happening in the ring or on the field but rather in the courtroom. According to a just-released report from Legal Sports Betting (LSB), there continue to be disputes between the Florida Seminole Tribe and the State of Florida. The main source of the conflict is geared around a “now-defunct” gambling pact from 2021 between the parties. Per the report from LSB, this particular agreement would have had the Seminole Tribe initially pay the state of Florida $500 million per month, but was then dropped to $350 million. Now the main schism is geared around the Seminoles refusing to the state because of the unresolved 2021 gaming compact.
In this report, SBS will take a deeper dive into this disagreement and what it means for gaming in the near future for Florida.
According to Brett Crown’s report for LSB, there are a couple of sections in the compact that clearly indicate the Seminoles will have to pay at some point. The agreement has many sections that appear to be very close to clearing the Tribes of any necessary payments should the compact fall through, but those wordings never happened. In fact, the most important section of the 2021 Seminole is the second half of Section A of Part XIV (you can also find this information on the Florida government website). It reads as follows:
“If at any time the tribe is not legally permitted to offer Sports Betting as described in this Compact, including to Patrons physically located in the State but not on Indian Lands, then the Compact will not become null and void, but the Tribe will be relieved of its obligation to pay the full Guaranteed Minimum Compact Term Payment, as explained in Part XI, Section C.4(e). However, Payments due to the State pursuant to Part XI, Sections C and E of the Compact shall continue.”
According to Crown’s article, the compact does become unclear within Part XI Section regarding how much is owed to the state. However, the number will most likely be $350 million because if not it would raise the observation as to why the Seminoles were paying that much in the first place.
Regarding the next steps, there are really a couple of next action items for the State of Florida from here. According to the LSB report, there are two ways to approach the withholding of the payments by the Florida Seminole Tribe. In this case, the Seminole Tribe very much wants to offer sports gambling and has an opportunity to put pressure on the state government in an important election year to fix this agreement. What’s more, this is a risky move by the Tribe since it may cause too many issues for the state and fracture the already tepid relationship.
However, though it does seem like a large and uncertain move to stop payments to the State of Florida, the opportunity to become the sole provider of sports gaming in Florida could be too much to pass up for the Seminoles. This will be a tough battle, but with so much money at stake regarding commercialized gambling in Florida, it is going to be a big and lucrative dispute. However, to the victor go the spoils.
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