Seminole Tribe of Florida files Jacksonville lawsuit

In Florida, the federally-recognized Seminole Tribe of Florida has reportedly initiated a legal action against the operators of eleven local restaurants, cafes and coffee shops amid allegations that these firms are illegally offering electronic gambling machines.

According to a report from television broadcaster WTLV-TV, the lawsuit was filed with the Fourth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in Jacksonville on December 6 and alleges that the defendants are running ‘electronic gambling parlors’ and that this infringes upon its own monopoly on offering such ‘casino-style’ games.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida operates a number of casinos across the southern state including the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Tampa and the larger Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood and reportedly inked a deal with Florida officials in 2010 that gave it the exclusive rights to offer Class III gaming such as electronic gambling machines and slots.

The Jacksonville-based broadcaster reported that the lawsuit alleges that the Duval County defendants are contravening this agreement by owning, maintaining or managing venues that permit customers to electronically ‘engage in various forms of casino-style gambling whereby the patrons pay money in return for which they receive a chance to win greater sums of money as prizes’.

Tribal attorney Barry Richard reportedly told WTLV-TV that the defendants, which include Wild Plum Arcade, Lucky’s Cyber Center and Big Chances Internet Café, are offering games that ‘you would play in a casino’.

“They are typical slot-type games, spinning games or so-called ‘fish games’ or card games,” Richard reportedly told the broadcaster. “The essential point is 7BALL that the patron pays money for the chance to win more money.”

Alongside the operators, the lawsuit from the Seminole Tribe of Florida moreover reportedly names 15 landlords as defendants for allowing their tenants to ‘knowingly permit such unlawful gambling to take place’.

“These are very clear violations of Florida’s gambling laws and I have a high level of confidence that the [Seminole Tribe of Florida] is going to be successful,” Richard reportedly told WTLV-TV.

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