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Seminole Chairman Mitchell Cypress


he state of Florida and the Seminole Indians

have finally agreed on a gaming compact. Governor Charlie Crist

signed the bill into law in late April. The new deal will allow the tribe exclusive

rights to casino-style card games like blackjack at five of its seven casinos, including the Hard Rock in Tampa and three casinos in Broward County. In return, the Seminoles will pay more than $1 billion over the next five years. At the end of the term, the state has the option of extending the five-year agree- ment. A second, 20-year agreement enables the tribe to operate Las Vegas-style slot machines at all seven of its facilities. “I think everyone will benefit as well as the


5,000 attendees visit NIGA’s trade show



ne of the favorite locations for the annual Indian Gaming trade show produced by the

National Indian Gaming Association is San Diego. When this year’s version of the show arrived in San Diego, it brought with it 5,000 attendees. Held on the occasion of NIGA’s 25th anniver-

sary, the event was dedicated to Native Americans who played significant roles in the development of Indian gaming, who died in the last year: Chief Philip Martin of the Mississippi Choctaw tribe, Tim Wapato, NIGA’s first chairman, a member of the Colville Confederated Tribe, and others. NIGA also honored many living legends. At the

Chairman’s Leadership Awards Luncheon, Oneida Nation of Wisconsin Chairman Rick Hill, 45-year Tulalip Tribes board member Stan Jones, and Kurt BlueDog, general counsel of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, were recognized for their contributions to the industry. At the 12th

Annual Wendell Chino Humanitarian Award Banquet Wednesday night, Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anouatubby was honored, followed by a performance of the legendary rock band Guess Who. NIGA leadership was also re-elected, with Vice Chairman Kevin Leecy and Treasurer J.R. Matthews returned to office. NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens said he’s proud

of the business that is done each year at his organi- zation’s annual trade show and conference. “I like to keep things in house,” he told Indian

Country Today. “That’s why we’ve got something happening every night, because we want people to • May 2010

NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens (at far left) orchestrates the trade show’s ribbon-cutting with dignitaries including NCAI Chairman Jefferson Keel, former Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, actor Adam Beach and former UCLA basketball star Bill Walton.

see what we do, we want people to interact with one another, and do the business of Indian country. It’s an understatement to say business goes on at NIGA. I think that’s where the business is built, where the business is protected, where people are educated about the business and where it’s advanced.”


their tax rate slashed from 50 percent to 35 percent. Other tracks and frontons will get a chance to


Tax revenues no longer earmarked for education

Seminole tribe,” said Seminole Chairman Mitchell Cypress, of the deal that’s been three years in the making. “It’s been a long journey.” The compact will pump more than $400 mil-

lion into the state budget. The Seminoles have already paid $270 million they had held in escrow pending a final deal; they will pay a minimum of $150 million to $200 million per year through 2015. That money will help to cover part of the state’s gaping budget deficit. While Crist has long touted the use of gaming revenues for public educa- tion, the latest version of the deal sends the money to the general fund. The state’s 27 dog tracks, horse tracks and jai-

alai frontons also won some concessions. Tracks and frontons in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, which have voter-approved slot machines, will see

expand their existing poker games, set higher limits and open for longer hours. They also will be allowed to install 350 electronic bingo or instant racing machines at each of their facilities. The new compact could lead to the expansion

of the Seminole casino empire, said Jim Allen, CEO of Seminole Gaming. “It creates a real incentive for us to expand, hire

more people and create more destinations,” Allen told the Tribune. The new compact gives the state “an opportuni-

ty to catch our breath,” said House negotiator Bill Galvano. “At that point we know what the deal is and we have the ability to decide if banked card games are something we want in our borders.” State lawmakers and outside investors like

Sheldon Adelson of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. have spoken publicly about creating destination casinos in places like Miami. That could make Florida the Las Vegas of the Southeast, according to the Palm

Beach Post.

“That’s a very real probability, yes,” Galvano

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