Gulfstream Dismisses Tribal Casino 'Suit

Gulfstream Dismisses Tribal Casino 'Suit
Photo: File Photo
Gulfstream Park has voluntarily dismissed a federal lawsuit that sought to block slots being installed in casinos operated by Florida Indian tribes, saying it will await the outcome of a similar Florida Supreme Court action.

The lawsuit, which was filed last December, included as defendants Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. Crist last November signed a compact with the Seminole Tribe which allowed for the implementation of Class III slots into seven tribal casinos, three of which are located in Broward County, where Gulfstream is located.

Marc Dunbar, a Tallahassee-based attorney representing Gulfstream Park, said the lawsuit was filed in a Florida federal court only as an attempt to immediately block the installation of slots in the tribal casinos. The judge assigned to the case declined to file an injunction, according to court records, and the tribe began installing slots at one of its casinos in February.

“There was no reason to keep the federal case down here,” Dunbar said. “It became moot. It wasn’t appropriate to keep it going until the (Florida) Supreme Court rules.”

The Florida Supreme Court action, which was filed by the Florida House of Representatives last year, challenges Crist’s constitutional authority to negotiate and sign the tribal compact. Gulfstream Park has joined the Florida House as plaintiffs in the action, which was filed a couple of weeks after Crist signed the compact. Oral arguments were heard Jan. 30, and it could be months before the court releases its opinion.

The Seminole Tribe eventually plans to install up to 15,000 slot machines in its Florida casinos. The compact also gave the tribe the right to conduct “banked” card games such as blackjack and baccarat.

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