In a Thursday letter to Deb Haaland, secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI), Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber asked the federal government to reject the newly-signed gambling compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Indian tribe.
“I support the goals of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (’IGRA’), namely, to provide Native American tribes with a pathway to greater independence and economic vitality. But the Florida Compact you are considering was not crafted in pursuit of those goals,” Gelber wrote in the letter.
“It was simply a vehicle hijacked by non-tribal casino interests who fully corrupted the legislative and executive process in order to obtain advantages outside of tribal land and in direct contravention to the interests of Floridians,” the letter continued.
The DOI must approve or reject the Compact under federal law, and has 45 days from May 25 to do so. If the DOI takes no action during the 45 day timeframe, the Compact, which greatly expands gambling in the state, will go into effect.
“The contents of the compact consists of the Seminole Tribe being able to: add craps and roulette to their casinos, launch sports betting, contracting with non-tribal casinos to operate sports betting lounges, working with large Las Vegas-style casinos with the tribe’s name on the building, expansion of casino buildings to tribal owned lands in Coconut Creek or Immokalee,” The Florida Capital Star reported in May.
That is one of Gelber’s primary objections. He says the compact was designed to help Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and some of his allies who own resorts in Florida.
One of those allies is Jeffrey Soffer, who donated to DeSantis’ gubernatorial campaign and met with lawmakers to encourage them to approve the Compact.
Gelber’s other primary objection appears to be the legality of online sports betting, which would be allowed throughout the state, not just on casino grounds. That part of the compact has been met with some scrutiny, but the servers that host the online sports betting data will be located on Seminole Casino property, which is a potential caveat that could help the case of those who are in favor of the Compact.
DeSantis fired back at Gelber, taking particular objection to the term “hijacked,” used by Gelber in his letter to the DOI. He insisted that the Compact has nothing to do with his political allies.
“Is there any basis to say that? Is there anything in the Compact that you can point to to say it was hijacked?” DeSantis asked reporters rhetorically. “In fact, they’re not getting anything out of this. There’s nothing to do with that. That is just pure, idiotic politics.”
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