By: Michael Putney
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. –
The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is celebrating its 10th anniversary this weekend, and they are still making a ton of money.
“This year we’ve done in excess of $2 billion in gaming revenues,” said Jim Allen, Hard Rock’s international chairman.
Seminole gambling has grown exponentially over the last decade thanks to the Hard Rock brand, and a deal with the state of Florida that gives the tribe exclusive rights to table games.
The agreement with the state expires next year and Gov. Rick Scott has been working hard behind the scenes to extend it.
For the exclusive right to table games like blackjack, the Seminoles pay the state $250 million a year, $1 billion over five years, but their competitors say they can afford to pay a lot more.
“Two hundred and fifty million dollars that the tribe is paying the state is only about a 10 percent effective tax rate, so it’s about a third of what they should be paying the state,” said Mardi Gras Gaming President Dan Adkins.
Scott is in a predicament when it comes to gambling. He’s accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Seminoles, and also taken big money from gambling interests like Genting and Las Vegas Sands. He’s in a bind. The Seminoles are not.
“Like they say, you can’t trust white people but this time it really worked,” said James Billie, chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.