Legal challenge coming to Florida Seminole gaming compact

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TALLAHASSEE – Now that the Department of the Interior has allowed the gaming compact between Florida and the Seminole Tribe to go into effect, opponents of the increased gaming being given to the tribe are readying a lawsuit to stop it.

The Seminole gaming pact was signed in April, approved by lawmakers in May and allowed to go into effect by the Department of the Interior when the 45-day review period expired without a comment.

“We plan to do what it takes to make sure this is in front of the courts, both at the federal level and the state level,” said John Sowinski with No Casinos Inc.

No Casinos Inc. is now readying a lawsuit to stop the compact. The compact allows sports betting starting October 15, as well as craps and roulette, none of which are currently legal in Florida.

Because of that, No Casinos believes that only voters can approve of more gaming.

“Amendment 3 is under assault. An amendment that 72% of the people of Florida voted for is being ignored,” said Sowinski.

But Gov. Ron DeSantis and the tribe are hanging their hopes on Section C of the amendment passed by voters in 2018.

“And I think it satisfies Amendment 3,” DeSantis said in April.

No Casinos disagrees.

“And the Legislature does not have the authority to duly authorize within our state sports betting, roulette, craps, any other form of casino gambling unless the voters of Florida approve it,” said Sowinski.

Florida voters have turned down casino gambling in 1978, 1986 and 1994.

They narrowly approved slot machines in 2004, but only for south Florida.

No Casinos contends that the Indian Regulatory Gaming Act only allows gaming already legal in a state to take place on tribal lands. A judge is likely to have the final say.

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