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Seminole Immokalee Faces Gaming Deal Challenge

The Seminole Casino facility in Immokalee was given a bad hand when legislative negotiators brokered an agreement that would permit banked card games like baccarat at casino facilities in Tampa and Broward, but not at Immokalee.

Just do not expect the Seminole tribe to cash in their chips and leave the casino table. The spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe, Gary Bitner, said on January 23rd, 2010 that there was no reason for players-who have been enjoying banked cards games at the Seminole Immokalee Casino since December 2009-to panic. Bitner said that this is not a done deal and just another step in the whole process.

While dealers and players at the Seminole Immokalee casino face a questionable future, the future of the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track-the Seminole Immokalee casino's main competitor-appears to be brighter.

As part of the agreement, the Bonita Beach Road track will now be permitted to hold no-limit poker events and remain open 24/7 on weekend and eighteen hours during weekdays.

The track's chief operating officer, Scott Savin, said that they are seeking more gaming like "historical racing", a slot like game based on past horse racing and video lottery terminals. But it does not mean that just because a gaming deal was brokered in Tallahassee that the Seminole tribe is giving up on the issue.

Bitner said that they want to see the language of the new bill and determine what it will mean for the Seminole tribe's future. Max B. Osceola Jr. said that they will be keeping an eye on any developments on the issue. Bitner said that he is hopeful that after the approval of this gaming agreement, the gaming compact that Gov. Charlie Crist negotiated will be approve.

That gaming compact allowed for slot machines and banked card games like baccarat and blackjack in Immokalee. Bitner said that even if Florida succeeds in removing card games in Immokalee, he believes that the casino will still thrive. He added that slot machines are still the preferred game in the casino.

Bitner said that the Seminole tribe has a commitment to the casino and they will do everything to ensure its success. If the tribe fails to keep banked card games in Immokalee, they will have ninety days to remove it from the time the final gaming agreement is approved.


02/18/2010 11:59 PM


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