Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum on Friday sent a letter urging the National Indian Gaming Commission to halt what he called illegal gambling activities by the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
The tribe has continued to offer Las Vegas-style gambling on its land in Florida despite a ruling nearly two weeks ago that finalized the state Supreme Court’s invalidation of a compact Gov. Charlie Crist signed with the tribe last November.
The compact was challenged by leaders of the Legislature who said the governor did not have the authority to unilaterally negotiate and sign a compact, and Supreme Court justices agreed. Lawmakers had also argued that Crist’s compact authorized gambling that is not legal in Florida.
McCollum is hoping that the chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission will stop the Seminoles from operating what he calls an illegal casino. If the Seminoles don’t stop, McCollum is expected to seek a court order.
Crist, a Republican, has said he will work with lawmakers to negotiate a new compact. In the meantime, the legal challenge has placed in limbo $50 million that the tribe forwarded to the state when the compact was signed, plus 25 years of $100 million annual payments from the tribe that would pump up state coffers at a time when Florida’s revenues are plummeting.
“I fully support Attorney General McCollum’s efforts to halt the Seminole Tribe’s illegal gambling,” said incoming House Speaker Ray Sansom, R-Destin. “If the tribe wants to work with the state to resolve the compact issue, the tribe must first comply with the laws of Florida and of the United States.”
Sansom’s predecessor as speaker, Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, initiated the legal challenge against the compact.