Seminoles pressure DeSantis to make gaming deal

Tribe stops revenue-share payments amid negotiations


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Amid gaming compact negotiations, the Seminole Tribe is suspending monthly revenue share payments starting Wednesday, according to Marcellus Osceola, Jr., the chairman of the tribal council. 

In a letter addressed to Gov. Ron DeSantis Tuesday, Osceola said the tribe will resume the monthly payments when the state moves to shut down illegal banking card games, such as blackjack and roulette.

The games allow players to bet against the house instead of having players bet against each other. A previous agreement with former Gov. Charlie Crist granted the tribe exclusivity over the banking card games.

"There has not been aggressive enforcement action against those games," Osceola wrote

Osceola, who is set to start another four-year term in June, says allowing illegal banking card games in the state is a violation of their previous agreements. A gaming compact agreement with the tribe to resume revenue-share payments needs the approval of both state lawmakers and DeSantis. Voters' approval is not required. 

The federal government regulates the deals. Native American tribes and states have been negotiating deals since the federal government allowed tribes to run gambling establishments on tribal land in 1988. About two decades later, the Seminole Tribe made a deal with the state to allow banking card games on tribal land.

Crist's July 6, 2010 deal allowed the tribe to pay the state for exclusive rights to the banking card games. The agreement with Crist expired in 2015, and the tribe made a new deal with former Gov. Rick Scott, which had the tribe paying about $350 million a year to the state.

"The Tribe and the State have enjoyed a good relationship and we are hopeful that we will be able to reach an agreement that will strengthen that relationship for many years to come," Osceola wrote

A spokeswoman for Senate President Bill Galvano told the Tampa Bay Times Tuesday that the tribe's decision comes as no surprise to the Senate, so the recent budget did not include the tribe's appropriations for this year. 

Osceola said the tribe is looking forward to resuming negotiations with DeSantis this summer.  

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