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Tribe Seeks To Consolidate Gambling Cases

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The Seminole Tribe of Florida is seeking to consolidate dueling lawsuits with the state about the future of blackjack games at tribal casinos.

Attorneys for the tribe filed a document last week in federal court in Tampa seeking to consolidate the two lawsuits and have them heard in federal court in Tallahassee. The dispute stems from a 2010 gambling agreement, known as a "compact," between the tribe and the state and the Seminoles' exclusive rights to offer banked card games, including blackjack, at most of their casinos.

Part of the 2010 deal involving the card games expired this summer, and a 90-day grace period recently ended without an agreement between the state and the tribe about an extension. The Seminoles filed a federal lawsuit in Tallahassee, accusing the state of acting in "bad faith" in the negotiations over the compact and asking a federal judge to allow the tribe to keep offering the card games.

Days later, the state filed a separate lawsuit in Tampa, asking a federal judge to stop the games. In the document filed late last week, tribe attorneys Barry Richard and Joseph Webster requested a transfer of the Tampa case to the federal Northern District of Florida, which includes Tallahassee.

"The Northern District case was properly filed by the Tribe, and it involves the same parties, arises out of the same transaction or occurrence as this matter (the Tampa lawsuit filed by the state), and depends upon resolution of the same issues that must be resolved in this matter,'' they wrote.