Friday, February 22, 2008

Scared to Play at the Seminole Hard Rock???

I'm not. But an editorial in The Northern Star could lead residents and tourist to question game fairness at area tribal casinos, and fear for their safety in the event that they win big.

The Northern Star ("The Magazine for Pari Mutuel Enthusiasts" link) is a free newspaper distributed at local tracks and frontons. Major advertisers include Gulfstream Park, The Isle at Pompano Park, Dania Jai-Alai, Miami Jai-Alai, and the Cheetah strip club.

The piece I am referring to is an opinion written by managing editor Saul Durst for the February issue. In it Mr Durst compares the operators of Indian Casinos to brutal Haitian dictator Fran├žois "Papa Doc" Duvalier.

Mr Durst recalls a trip to Haiti, where he and his friends hit it big playing Blackjack in a local casino. Upon leaving the casino, they were followed to their hotel by the police who escorted them to their room and instructed them that there would be a car waiting to take them back to the casino the next day. They did go back, and made sure they lost all their winnings because, as Mr Durst puts it: "People disappeared there". He goes on in the next sentence: "I find the same truth may be at the Indian Casinos. Maybe not so drastic but there was no way I would win there so why go?".

I think it's reprehensible to compare the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes to a brutal dictatorial regime. Both tribes have a rich history and culture that is respected and revered by most Floridians. Our state university's athletic programs proudly pay tribute to the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Besides that, South Florida has a large and vibrant Hatian community, many with first hand knowledge of the events during the Duvalier reign. It is totally inappropriate for The Northern Star to use this example to scare people.

Elsewhere in the article, Mr Durst says he would not play the machines or cards at Indian Casinos because he "wouldn't know if they have someone controlling the results" and that he was taught to stay away from the "shady places". I don't know what the house edge is for the slots at the Seminole Hard Rock, but the machines are manufactured by industry leaders like IGT and Bally. These companies produce many of the most popular slot machines found in heavily regulated gaming jurisdictions like Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and elsewhere (even South Florida Pari-Mutuels). I seriously doubt either company would jeopardize it's worldwide market share by producing unfair games for use in a South Florida Indian Casino.

The tribal casinos and pari-mutuels are in a fierce competition for the local gambling market share. It's just business. But this article crosses the line, and I find its distribution at our local tracks and frontons shameful.


Anonymous said...

You wrote that "I don't know what the house edge is for the slots at the Seminole Hard Rock." Well, you should know. It should be public information just the way it is in AC and many other U.S. gambling jurisdictions. Machines have a range of house percentage hold. This can vary widely. Should'nt the people of Florida have the right to know if the casino has a stock of machines that are tight (10% hold or more) or loose (less then 5%) so they can make an informed decision to play or not?

Anonymous said...

just happened to see the responses to my column.

lets see, the seminole tribe is hiding at least one murderer that can't be touched. No attorney will take an injury case against the indians because they know they will lose. the indians do not tell you what the percentage of their machines is a payoff. i am sure they have no idea of how much money they do make. it also seems that their chiefs are always in trouble with the law.