High Court Busts Casino Deal


The Florida Supreme Court says the governor overstepped his authority when he negotiated a gambling pact with the Seminole Tribe to expand gaming at its casinos. It will take a week or longer to determine the impact of the ruling.

Florida Speaker of the House Marco Rubio legally challenged the governor's deal maintaining that such a pact required legislative approval.

The Florida Supreme Court agreed that the governor overstepped his authority permitting gambling such as blackjack and gaming tables that are illegal elsewhere in the state.

Those table games so far have only been installed at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner says they're proving popular.

Bitner says the court ruling will not interfere with the Tribe's tentative plans to bring table games to the Tampa casino late this year.

He says the Tribe has already paid more than $60 million dollars in tax revenue on its expanded operations.

A written statement released by the Seminole Tribe reminded everyone that the court's decision is not final until there's been a ruling on a re-hearing . And, the tribe is leaving open it's legal options including a review by the United States Supreme Court.

Florida's Attorney General filed an injunction in federal court to delay implementation the deal, but lost. And now, his office must unravel the complex ruling. Sandi Copes, spokeswoman for Attorney General Bill McCollum, says they'll assemble a legal team next week to review the complex ruling and decide the next step.

The state's horse and dog track owners also objected to the gaming deal because in part it granted the Seminole tribe exclusive rights to table games.

Yvonne Gurbada is secretary-treasurer of the Florida Greyhound Association. The professional organization which represents greyhound owners and trainers sides with the pari-mutuel owners.

She says it's a matter of fairness especially when it comes to state taxes. Gurbada says casinos are not taxed at the same, higher rate that track owners must pay.

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