Seminoles Halt Revenue Share Payments To Florida From Voided Gambling Deal

Written By Brant James on May 2, 2022 - Last Updated on May 4, 2022
Compact Voided With Escrow Shared From Seminole Paying Revenue Share

The Seminole Tribe of Florida last week stopped paying installments on the $500 million in yearly revenue sharing agreed upon in its 2021 gaming compact with the state.

The owners and proprietors of six casinos in Florida – two of them Hard Rock International properties – had gained the right to offer state-wide mobile and retail sports betting, craps, and roulette in a deal negotiated with Gov. Ron DeSantis. It was approved in a special session by the State Legislature.

But after a month of accepting mobile bets through its Hard Rock Digital app, the Tribe was forced to suspend service when a series of lawsuits by rival gambling interests gained traction.

US District Court Judge Dabney Friedrich invalidated the Compact in November, saying the mobile component went beyond the scope of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act although the Department of the Interior asserted otherwise in tacitly granting approval of the deal in August.

Halting Florida revenue share payments becomes part of long process as litigation stews

Laws governing gambling in Florida reverted to the 2010 compact between the Seminoles and the state.

In a statement to the media, Seminoles spokesperson Gary Bitner said the payments would be paid into an escrow account.

“The Governor, the State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe continue to work together closely to defend the 2021 Gaming Compact in the litigation pending in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, just as they did when it was challenged in the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee. Until the litigation is resolved, the Tribe is making revenue share payments based on the 2021 Gaming Compact into escrow.”

Bitner told PlayUSA in February that payments had resumed even though the compact had been voided by Friedrich.

Litigation against the State of Florida and the Department of the Interior was brought by the owners of the Magic City Casino and Bonita Springs Poker Room pari-mutuel outlets.

It’s all awaiting movement in the US District Court of Appeals, a process observers believe could take years.

Subsequent appeals could eventually send the case to the US Supreme Court, which allowed states to legalize sports betting by overturning the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018. Since then, 32 American jurisdictions have legalized the enterprise.

Meanwhile, in other Seminoles news

The first Formula 1 Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix careens around a Hard Rock Stadium footprint this weekend and the Seminole tribe announced a one-off sponsor deal with the developmental W Series. Hard Rock International, which is owned by the Tribe will serve as title sponsor for the single-seater all-female series.

The series will be on the undercard of eight F1 weekends, beginning at the so-called Miami International Autodrome, the course erected near the Dolphins’ football stadium.

“Hard Rock is honored to support W Series and help kick off what’s certain to be an incredible season by serving as title sponsor during the inaugural Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix,” Tracy Bradford, president of Seminole Hard Rock Support Services and co-founder of Seminole & Hard Rock Women in Leadership internal mentoring program said in a release. “As a brand that prioritizes equity through our ‘Love All-Serve All’ motto, we’re proud to encourage women to showcase their skills and pursue their dreams whether it’s on the track or anywhere out in the world.”

Hard-Rock-sponsorship-Miami-F1
Hard Rock International is the title sponsor of the 2022 season-opening W Series double-header in Miami this weekend.
Photo by Shutterstock.com
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Brant James

Brant James is a veteran journalist who has twice been recognized in the Associated Press Sports Editors Awards, most recently in 2020. He's covered motorsports, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball among a myriad of others beats and written enterprise and sports business for publications including USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com.

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