Seminole Tribe Negotiating Compact with Florida Governor Rick Scott

By Steve Larson, Legal US Poker Sites

According to several news sources, the Seminole Tribe of Florida is nearing a completed deal on a new gaming compact with Florida Governor Rick Scott. A source close to the negotiations says a special session in May might be called for the legislature to consider a new compact with the tribe. A spokesman for the tribe gave a “no comment” when asked about the story.

Despite the rumors of a pending deal, several groups among Florida lawmakers might be slow to provide support for any deal the governor signs with the Seminole Tribe. Election year politics, social conservatism, and traditional gaming interests could stand in the way of a new compact. Against those considerations stand a possible billion-dollar windfall for the state.

2010 Seminole Compact Was Worth $1 Billion

The State of Florida and the Seminole Tribe signed a deal in 2010 with some parts set to expire in 2015. The 2010 compact guaranteed in excess of $1 billion for the state government, but bound the state’s hands in bringing in new casino developments. Some Florida lawmakers would like to see the current deal expire, so integrated resort casinos could be placed in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. These politicians believe the South Florida casinos would combine with established gaming to provide far larger revenues.

Early in 2014, several Florida legislators proposed a comprehensive gambling bill which would have spurred such competition with the tribe. House Speak Will Weatherford asked Rick Scott to renegoiatite the compact with the Seminole Tribe before proceeding with the bill. Speaker Weatherford wants a constitutional amendment placed before the electorate which requires any future gambling expansions to be approved by Florida voters. Many lawmakers have balked at such a plan, because in a divided state, such a move could squelch any gaming expansion and therefore could hurt competition by removing realistic options.

Will Weatherford Saying the House Cannot Be “Leveraged”

Any new legislation would come to the governor’s desk when the state’s $75 billion budget will be ready to be signed. Because Rick Scott has a line-item veto ower, he could eliminate individual spending items which legislators might add to the bill. This would give the governor bargaining power, but might not assure approval of a new Seminole gaming compact.

When addressing that issue, Will Weatherford said, “I don’t see the Florida House being leveraged into anything. We have been very good to the governor this year.

Opposition Could Prove Stubborn

Several groups may be opposed to a new deal, at least under certain conditions. The Westport News speculates some lawmakers will not approve a new deal, if the legislature does not promise to help the state’s horse tracks and dog tracks.

Democrats have indicated they might not vote for the compact, if they are sidestepped in the negotiations. While Republicans are the majority party in Florida, the GOP voting bloc is not solid on the gambling issue. Some Republican politicians have been unwilling to vote on gaming compacts in the past, fearing they would be condoning gambling or expanding social ills.

Democrats Have “No Motivation to Ratify”

If that is the case this year, then Democrats will have a key role in whether a new compact is voted up or ndown. House Democratic Leader Perry Thurston said, “Quite frankly, we don’t have any motivation just to ratify what the governor does.”

In a mid-term election year, the minority party often is loathe to provide a sitting governor with any legislative victories to trumpet. In such conditions, the gambling compact might face stiffer-than-normal opposition.

Florida’s Tribal gaming industry is among the strongest in the nation. Florida is behind only California, Washington, and Oklahoma in gambling revenues for the Native American Tribes. The Indian casinos in Florida collected $2.2 billion in 2012 alone.

Hall-of-famer lawsuit exposes flaws in gambling deal with Seminole Tribe


Baseball hall-of-famer Brooks Robinson is asking the Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood to waive its rights and compensate him for his injuries.


By Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald

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Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson in 2005. DANNY JOHNSTON / ASSOCIATED PRESS
Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson in 2005. DANNY JOHNSTON / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Renowned baseball Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson plunged six feet from an unsecured stage during a charity event at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood two years ago and is now suing the Seminole Tribe for almost $10 million for his permanent injuries.

But whether the 76-year-old Baltimore Orioles superstar will collect enough to even cover his medical bills is an open question, said his Miami attorney, Jack Hickey, because under Florida law the tribe’s liability is limited.

Robinson still experiences bleeding on the brain, cracks in his spine, and has lost five inches in height as a result of his injuries, Hickey said. He requires constant care, and “has aged 10 years since the fall.”

Under the state’s legal agreement with the tribe, if someone is injured at a tribal casino and wants to sue, the tribe’s payment is capped at $200,000 per person and $300,000 per incident, the same limits that apply when the state is sued for negligence.

A victim suffering from serious injury “can blow through that pretty quickly,” Hickey said. But, unlike the state, victims who sue the tribe cannot appeal to the Legislature for more money when a jury awards more than the liability limits.

Hickey is asking the tribe to waive the liability cap and pay $9.9 million to compensate for Robinson’s surgeries, medications and physical therapy. He estimates Robinson has lost almost $3 million in income to his family and his charities, and he believes the case exposes a weakness in the compact between the state and the tribe.

“The tribe is going to make billions of dollars and then not take responsibility for it,” he said. “If the state allows them to get away with it, shame on the state of Florida, and shame on the governor.”

Seminole Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner defended the arrangement. Under the compact with the state, the tribe has already agreed to waive its complete immunity from liability under state law. Without the waiver — which also caps the tribe’s liability — injured parties would “get zero,” he said.

“The tribe wanted to do this from the get-go for consumers to be sure that people had the sense of being protected on the property,” he said. “The tribe is in the business of welcoming people to its casinos and making sure people feel they are in a safe and protected environment while they are there.”

He said he was confident that the tribe would negotiate a fair resolution with Robinson, but “can’t discuss any negotiations.”

The compact between Florida and the Seminoles — which Gov. Rick Scott is now renegotiating — spells out what kind of gambling the tribe can offer at its casinos in exchange for sharing revenue with the state.

Robinson’s injury occurred in January 2012, when he was sitting at the top of a three-tiered stage during a player recognition and auction event for Joe DiMaggio’s Children’s Hospital.

Robinson apparently tried to get up from his chair and leaned back against a curtain that had no railing or wall behind it. He fell to the ground, suffering a concussion and fracturing his shoulder and back, his lawyer said in a letter sent to the tribe’s insurance company, Zurich Insurance.

Hickey believes the stage was set up improperly and employees should have taken action to make it safe. He noted that 45 minutes before Robinson’s fall, another baseball player, Paul Casanova, fell off the same stage.

“The curtain provided the illusion that there was some support, partition, wall, railing or some other structure to prevent people from falling off the stage,” Hickey wrote.

Robinson, who played in consecutive All Star games from 1960 to 1974, was considered one of the best third basemen of all time.

Before the fall, he attended numerous paid appearances at memorabilia shows, was a frequent presence on television and radio, and worked as a part-owner in several business ventures. Since the fall, he has limited his appearances, suffers chronic back pain, has “slowness in his thought process and speech” and is “always exhausted,” Hickey wrote.

State Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican who helped negotiate the compact with the tribe, said he recalled that it was considered a victory when the state persuaded the tribe’s lawyers to agree to any liability at all.

“We spent a lot of time on that section because they didn’t want to waive their immunity at all and come under the jurisdiction under local and state courts,” he said. “The idea was [that] through the very thorough pre-suit procedures most of these claims would get resolved.”

Hickey, who plans to file a federal lawsuit later this year, has a different opinion.

“Shame on the state for allowing them to have a cap like that,” he said. “I’m sure the tribe has their lawyers. Who’s representing the hundreds of people on their property? I would venture to say almost nobody.”

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Hard Rock Energy Drinks Debut in South Florida


Seminole Tribe of Florida launches new product in its convenience stores, other venues

December 12th, 2013

Published in CSP Daily News

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. — Hard Rock Energy drinks are making their debut in South Florida. This test market is the first step in rolling out the new product by the Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc., the tribe’s business development arm, which is jumping into the $20 billion-and-growing energy drink market. Three flavors of Hard Rock Energy drinks will soon be available for purchase on convenience store shelves and at select restaurants and bars.

The flavors are Original, Paradise Punch and Sugar Free.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida purchased Orlando, Fla.-based Hard Rock International Inc. in 2007 and has supported its strategic expansion to include more cafes, hotels, casinos and other new business ventures. The tribe’s business development arm has obtained a license to use the brand on Hard Rock Energy drinks.

hard-rock-energyA new venture, Enterprise Beverage Group LLC, has been established to produce, distribute and market the Hard Rock Energy drinks. The Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc. is the majority owner of Enterprise Beverage Group, which is based in Hollywood, Fla.

Tony Sanchez Jr., president of the Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc., said Hard Rock Energy drinks present the perfect opportunity to make the Hard Rock brand part of the growth of the tribe’s business development program.

“Hard Rock Energy drinks are a logical extension of our growing line of beverage products, including citrus juices sold under the Seminole Pride brand,” said Sanchez.

Enterprise Beverage Group is headed by CEO David Drow, whose track record in the beverage industry includes launching Hair of the Dawg drink mixes. Drow’s background is finance; he previously was a vice president at GMAC.

“The Hard Rock brand is perfect for a new energy drink,” said Drow. “Hard Rock is about high energy music and entertainment. It’s about fun.”

John Galloway, chief marketing officer and vice president of marketing for Hard Rock International, said, “True to the Hard Rock brand, this energy drink has the power to help people rock harder. It’s a great product and we couldn’t be more excited to put our stamp on this market. It’s an exciting new step for Hard Rock.”

Hard Rock Energy drinks are sold in slim, 16-oz. aluminum cans of two servings per can. They contain 100 milligrams of caffeine per serving. Hard Rock Energy Original flavor is aqua blue in color and comes in a black can. The Sugar-Free version is clear and is packaged in a white can, while the Paradise Punch flavor is light red and comes in a red can. All of the cans are emblazoned with the Hard Rock brand and retro electric guitar graphics.

Hard Rock Energy drinks are on sale at all c-stores operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc., including the Hollywood Trading Post. Distribution is already underway to additional retailers, restaurants, bars, hotels and other food service operators. The test market will expand to the Chicago area in 2014, with a potential national rollout slated for 2015.

Marketing for Hard Rock Energy drinks will have a strong focus on social media and grassroots marketing tactics to reach the prime demographic of males between the ages of 18 to 24. Enterprise Beverage Co. will deploy an official Hard Rock Energy Street Team, which will be present at concerts and community events to offer free product samples. In addition, the company will look for local “CEOs” (chief energy officers) who want to engage in fun, social media activities and be eligible to win prizes. A strategic marketing partnership with Dean Guitars, represented on the Hard Rock Energy drink cans, will add to the marketing firepower, the company said.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida Inc. manages various businesses enterprises in agriculture, cattle ranching and beef production, citrus juices, spring water, c-stores and more. It is managed by an elected five-member board. Hard Rock International has a total of 174 venues in 55 countries, including 136 cafes, 19 hotels and seven casinos, It also owns, licenses or manages hotel and casino properties worldwide.

Seminole Tribe of Florida Expands Juice Business

Source: Native News Network

sempride-logoWINTER HAVEN, FLORIDA – The Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc., through its growing citrus production business, Seminole Pride, has acquired a majority interest in Noble Food Service, the sales and marketing division of Noble Juice of Winter Haven, Florida.

“Our combined entity offers everything from premium orange juice, which is the standard bearer of citrus juices, to a full array of specialty citrus juices, the fastest-growing segment of the business.”

Said Tony Sanchez, president of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc, the Tribe’s business development arm.

“By joining forces in a sales and marketing operation, Seminole Pride and Noble Juice will create one of the industry’s most extensive line of citrus juices and expand their distribution to more restaurants, schools, hotels, hospitals and catering operators throughout the United States,”

Sanchez said.

Seminole Pride products will now be sold through a broad national network of juice retailers, while Noble Juice will benefit from the minority supplier status of Seminole Pride. The two entities will share profits from future growth.

Citrus juices sold through Noble Food Service include:

  • Orange
  • Red grapefruit
  • Blood orange
  • Pummelo Paradise
  • Tangerine
  • Tangerine guava mango
  • Tangerine clementine
  • Organic orange
  • Organic orange tangerine
  • Organic grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime

Noble Food Service also markets organic apple juice, lemonade, organic lemonade and bottled spring water.

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida and the Roe family share a strong commitment to the sustainability of Florida’s bounty,”

said Quentin Roe, chief executive officer of the Noble companies, including Noble Food Service.

“In addition to responsible growing practices, we both feature eco-friendly containers, including the juice industry’s only 100 percent plant-based bottle and label.”

The Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc., the business development arm of the Seminole Tribe, is working to diversify its product offerings under the Seminole Pride brand, which currently supplies spring water and beef, in addition to juice. Seminole Pride uses only those oranges that are picked at the peak of maturity to ensure a sweet and delicious juice.

Fruit for Seminole Pride is grown on the Brighton Seminole Reservation and at approved groves throughout Florida. The Seminole Pride business is one example of the Seminole Tribe’s mission to better the lives and livelihoods of all the American Indian peoples.