The clock is running down on the federal decision regarding the multi-billion gambling compact of Florida’s Seminole Tribe.
While Governor Ron DeSantis and the Chairman of the tribe Marcellus Osceola signed an expansive gambling deal last spring, the final word on the compact is still to be made. The 45-day review period for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) at the US Department of Interior to decide on the further fate compact ends on August 5th. The BIA has several options – it could decide to give the green light to the deal, to disapprove it or to take no position on the Seminole Tribe’s compact.
In case no position on the gambling deal is taken by the US Department of Interior, the compact will be considered approved and will have the same effects as if the government body approved it. As mentioned above, the BIA could also decide to disapprove the compact – a move that would send the 30-year agreement back to the consideration and planning stage.
The Seminole Tribe has been designated and recognized as a native American nation by the Federal Government, which means that its gambling compact with the state of Florida is subject to federal review under the provisions of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
The BIA Has Three Options But the Gambling Compact Likely to Face Legal Challenges
According to some experts, the BIA could prefer to leave the 45-day review period to expire without making a move, which would basically mean that the deal is approved without making an objection.
However, not expressing an opinion on some controversial components of the agreement, such as mobile sports betting off tribal lands, could pose significant legal challenges if the BIA officially approves the deal between Florida Governor and the local Seminole Tribe, experts have said. The US Interior Department is not likely to openly approve the compact because of the controversial provision that would allow local bettors to place sports bets online outside of Indian lands, according to analysts.
Gary Bitner, a spokesman of Seminole Gaming, said he expects to see the proposed gambling deal to be given the green light. Mr. Bitner said he was not concerned or surprised by the lack of action on the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ part, although the compact was tabled on June 21st. He further noted that previous gaming compact approvals have taken the entire period for review and consideration, so according to him, there was nothing to worry about.
During the 44-day period since the Seminole Tribe sent the agreement to the BIA for consideration, both proponents and opponents of the compact have been preparing their motives to support or attack the deal. According to some experts, legal challenges are looming for sure.
The gaming compact between the Governor and the local Indian tribe would bring gambling revenue of about $500 million to the state of Florida every year, with the figure expected to increase even more after the first years of the compact.