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Online Gambling Could be Deal Breaker for Seminoles


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Like many Native American tribes in the United States, the Seminoles
count on gambling as one of their major revenue streams and in this regard the
tribe reached an agreement with Florida lawmakers this week to offer
blackjack and slot games, although online gambling could throw a spanner in the
works.

As per the agreement, for an upfront fee and an annual revenue share paid to the
state, the Seminoles can operate blackjack tables and slot machines. However, if
online gambling is ever legalized and regulated in the state, and the tribe is
not permitted to offer online gambling, the terms of the agreement would change.

If the Seminoles are not allowed to launch their own online gambling websites,
according to a clause in the agreement they would be within their rights to stop
paying the state the minimum guaranteed revenues. However, for this clause to
come into effect the tribe’s profits would have to drop by at least five
percent.

The clause was put into the agreement to ‘hedge the Seminoles’ bets’ where
online gambling is concerned. It’s no secret that the majority of Native
American tribes are against online gambling, because they fear their gaming
revenues will be severely impacted if gamblers are legally allowed to gamble
from their homes.

But realistically, a legalized and regulated online gambling industry in Florida
is still likely many years away. But there is another clause in the agreement
that gives Florida lawmakers the right to re-examine the Seminoles gambling
agreement after five years, at which point the state can stop all blackjack and
slot gaming.

Interestingly, the agreement between the Seminoles and the state of Florida does
not mention the possibility of federal regulation, despite the anticipation in
Congress surrounding Barney Frank’s and Jim McDermott’s bills that propose the
legalization and regulation, and thus taxation, of online gambling in the
country.

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