No Casinos, South Florida businessmen file lawsuit against Seminole Compact

by | Sep 28, 2021


A pair of South Florida businessmen have joined No Casinos in filing a second lawsuit against a gambling agreement struck between Governor Ron DeSantis and the Seminole Tribe of Florida earlier this year.

The suit was filed Monday against the Department of the Interior, which oversees tribal gambling operations, by the plaintiffs — developer Armando Codina and car dealer Norman Braman — alleging that the Seminole Compact illegally expands gambling in Florida and “improperly allowed the State of Florida to circumvent” the state Constitution when it approved the gaming compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The lawsuit also maintains that the Governor and the Legislature violated federal Indian gaming law and the federal Wire Act and is calling on the court to block the compact.

“Today we joined with others in filing a federal lawsuit to stop the biggest expansion of gambling in Florida history and to ensure that the will of 72% of Florida Voters will not be ignored,” No Casinos President John Sowinski said in a statement. “As stated in the complaint filed today, the Compact violates at least three federal laws and the Florida Constitution.

DeSantis signed into law a series of gambling-related measures approved by state legislators during a special session held in May. One of the bills (SB 2-A) authorized a 30-year gambling deal, known as a “compact,” inked by the governor and Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. in April. Under the agreement, the tribe promised to pay the state $2.5 billion over the first five years of the deal.

The compact also opened the door for sports betting in Florida by having the Seminoles serve as the state’s hub for sports betting, with pari-mutuel operators contracting with the tribe. The deal requires the Seminoles to contract with at least three pari-mutuels within three months after sports betting goes live and does not allow the tribe to launch sports betting until Oct. 15. Once live, anyone over the age 21 can start placing and collecting online wagers on sporting events from anywhere in Florida. Additionally, the deal allows the Seminole Tribe to add roulette and craps to its seven Florida casinos.

The state is expected to receive an estimated $20 billion over the course of the 30-year deal.

Despite multiple lawsuits and pushback from critics, the Seminole Tribe of Florida say they are moving forward with the expansion.

“The Seminole Tribe and Seminole Gaming continue to move forward with hiring and training hundreds of new team members for the authorized launch of sports betting, craps and roulette — games now legal in Florida,” Seminole Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner said. “The new Gaming Compact was negotiated by the Seminole Tribe and the Governor of Florida, as spelled out in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Florida Legislature voted overwhelmingly in favor of the new Gaming Compact, which was then approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior. It has the support of two-thirds of Floridians. It is law.”

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