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Casino games at heart of contract dispute

Many contracts are entered into by Florida businesses everyday. However, it is not only private businesses that look to legal contracts to protect their interests. The state also engages in contract negotiations with many different types of organizations. Sometimes, disputes arise surrounding these contracts just like those between two private business entities.

Such is the case today regarding a contractual agreement between the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and the Native American Seminole Tribe of Florida. In 2010, the two organizations agreed that the tribe would have sole rights to specific banked gambling games until 2015. In addition, the tribe could enjoy the exclusive right to operate slot machines in both Broward and Miami-Dade Counties until 2030. While those terms seem straightforward, what has happened since 2015 is anything but.

The Native American tribe asserted that they were unable to agree to new contract terms with the state once the original banked games term expired and filed a lawsuit. In response to the suit, a judge supported the tribe's allegations and actually extended the group's ability to be the only entity to offer such games not just for a few years but until 2030. The tribe also insisted that the offer of electronic versions of the same games by the state would constitute a breach of contract.

Contracts are designed to clearly stipulate the agreement between parties yet they are not always able to prevent conflicts down the road. Organizations facing challenges to an existing contract might find it helpful to talk with an attorney to learn how to proceed in protecting their rights and interests.

Source: Florida Record, "Judge sides with Seminole tribe on banked card games," Christina Suttles, Jan. 27, 2017

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