Across Florida
What's happening on other political blogs?

Hard Rock’

Sheriff’s office, Seminoles dispute Bondi casino ‘money laundering’ claim

Thursday, December 15th, 2011 by Dara Kam

The Hillsborough County Sheriff‘s Office says it hasn’t investigated any links between drugsters and money laundering at Tampa’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, contradicting a claim made by Attorney General Pam Bondi last week.

“According to Chief Deputy Docobo, one of our detectives had a personal conversation with the Attorney General at a private function regarding money laundering in casinos. However our office has not conducted any investigation involving money laundering at casinos, nor do we have any official information that this type of criminal activity is/has occurred in Hillsborough County,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement.

Bondi joined other anti-gambling forces at a press conference last week to publicly denounce a “destination resorts” proposal that would allow three casinos to open in the state. “Many money laundering cases” related to the casino, owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, was one of the reasons Bondi gave for opposing the bill (SB 710).

The Sun Sentinel’s Nick Sortal blogged about the money laundering dispute:

But Bondi says that’s what she was told, and her office issued this statement Wednesday:

“At a charitable event on Nov. 12, I spoke with a deputy from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office regarding the gambling issue. I was absolutely told that in many of the last drug trafficking cases that they made, the money was laundered at the casino.”

Seminole Tribe Chairman James Billie had a blistering response to Bondi’s accusations in an op-ed slated to run in the tribe’s newspaper later this month.

“As long as I have been Chairman, since way back in 1979, and during the years I was out of office, I have never seen any information, whatsoever, come across my desk about money laundering,” Billie wrote. “In all these years the Seminole Tribe has conducted Gaming, since 1979, no audit has ever found any fraud, theft, embezzlement or large variances of any kind.”

The dispute over money-laundering puts the AG and the tribe at odds even though they’re both on the same side in opposing the bill.

“I am very disappointed to hear one of our top Florida government leaders come forward with such a statement that is so damaging to the reputation of the Seminole Tribe of Florida without checking its accuracy or even contacting us for our comments,” Billie said in his column.

“Red flags” in Crist-Seminoles gambling deal, Galvano says

Monday, August 31st, 2009 by Dara Kam

Shutting down the possibility of any kind of slot machine gambling at the state’s pari-mutuels and giving the Seminoles the right to offer blackjack at any of their casinos could jeopardize Crist and the tribe’s agreement, said state Rep. Bill Galvano, the House’s chief negotiator on the proposed compact.

“Those are red flags,” Galvano, R-Bradenton, said. “We’ll review from here and see where we go.”

Lawmakers laid out a gambling deal for Crist and the Seminoles in a bill the governor signed into law earlier this year.

That proposal allowed the Seminoles to keep blackjack at its Hollywood and Tampa Hard Rock resorts and to offer it at its Brighton and Big Cypress locales in Broward County.

The bill also didn’t mention “Class II” slot machines that look and play like Las Vegas-style slots but are less lucrative for operators.

The compact signed by Crist and the tribe today gives the Seminoles the exclusive rights to operate slots of any kind – including Class II video lottery terminals – anywhere outside of Broward and Miami-Dade counties where Las Vegas-style slots are already allowed.

That could have a devastating impact on the state’s dog and horse tracks, pari-mutuel operators object.

Crist, Seminoles sign gambling deal

Monday, August 31st, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe of Florida agreed to a gambling deal today, the deadline lawmakers gave to Crist to reach an agreement with the tribe.

The deal won’t be final, however, until the legislature approves the contract, probably during a special session in October.

The $6.8 billion, 20-year deal allows the Seminoles to offer blackjack at each of their seven facilities.

But that’s not what lawmakers ordered Crist to do.

They told him they would only agree to let the Seminoles have blackjack at their three Broward County facilities and another near Tampa.

Lawmakers must sign on off the deal before it can go into effect.

“Over the last two months, my administration has in good faith negotiated with the Seminole Tribe of Florida a compact that will reap financial benefit to the people of Florida,” Crist said in a statement urging lawmakers to approve the compact.

Florida political tweeters
Video: Politics stories