Politico ‘revelation’ is Seminoles made $2.2B

The Seminole Tribe of Florida has a pretty good point in its lawsuit against the state, even if the fight is now meaningless.

Florida’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering apparently inadvertently released documents that included details of the tribe’s casino revenues, and on Wednesday the tribe filed suit to stop the information from going further.

Still, web site Politico hustled out a story on Friday, with this news flash: HEY! THE SEMINOLES MAKE A LOT OF MONEY!

Welcome to Florida, boys.

With the cat out of the bag, the tribe dropped its suit Friday afternoon.

Back in 2010 when the Seminoles and the state reached a $1 billion compact, a portion of that agreement included guidelines for keeping some tribe financial info confidential. Public records requests regarding the Seminoles have routinely included redactions.

But the fact is, we pretty much know how the tribe is doing. I figured it out myself back in 2014, criss-crossing state and local tax documents. The state said the Seminoles made about $2.1 billion. Local government received pro-rated payments based on the profitability of the seven casinos. I had the Tampa casino making about $900 million and the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood about $528 million.

Seminole CEO James Allen’s testimony didn’t even break it down by casino.

So the Seminoles’ request probably was an over-reaction. Or, more likely, they were just playing hardball.

The state’s PMW has had problems since Gov. Rick Scott’s former chief of staff pushed out PMW Director Milt Champion. Since then, the PMW has allowed barrel racing, been forced by legislators to flip-flop on allowing banked card games at racetrack casinos and the PMW communicates the bare minimum – a trademark of the Scott administration. So this whole Politico thing strikes me as a mid-to low-level foul-up, with neither a great story nor great harm to the Seminoles.

The Politico story puts the tribe’s revenues at $2.4 billion, with $2.2 billion of that from gambling. That’s in line with that the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference has said. State economists gather periodically and discuss the gambling industry because they’re trying to project how much tax money they’ll be receiving. That way the state can budget better.

Politico’s argument was that they shouldn’t be punished because they obtained the information lawfully.

The article also stated that Allen, in his deposition, talked about Donald Trump.

“The Trump organization was frankly — no disrespect to what Mr. Trump presents, you know, in the media every day — was a different organization. It was very small,” he said, according to Politico.

The tribe has continued to offer blackjack and other table games since that portion of their agreement with the state expired July 31. The state is arguing the tribe should stop offering the games; the tribe argues the state did not negotiate in good faith, as required by federal law.

The tribe is also asking that race track casinos not be allowed to offer its versions of 3-card poker, pai gow and Casino War. Pari-mutuel card rooms, which are allowed to have poker, offer the games with a “designated player,” which then technically makes the games poker. The state first allowed the games, then retracted; 15 racetrack casinos in Florida are ignoring the retraction, arguing that they went to expense to set the games up in their poker rooms.

Get daily gambling news at SouthFloridaGambling.com. Follow Twitter @NickSortal