“What’s up with the Miccosukees?”
Since becoming The Herald’s gambling columnist in January, that’s easily the question I have been asked the most often, and for good reason. The casino west of the Florida Turnpike Extension is the lone entity that declined to enter the recent political fray over casino expansion in Florida, continuing a tradition of isolation that has been part of the tribe’s dedication to remaining a sovereign nation almost since the tribe settled along the Tamiami Trail in the 1920s.
Here’s a short update:
Why not have an agreement with the state? Federal law states that tribes make payments to states only if they are offering benefits that are above and beyond what commercial and racetrack casinos can offer. So right now, while the Seminoles pay the state more than $200 million a year, the Miccosukees keep everything they earn.
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But aren’t their slots different? Yes. They have “Class II” machines, which actually play an instantaneous game of bingo, but the results are represented by diamonds, cherries, etc., as a regular slot machine would. But look carefully. That bingo card is on display, too. The Seminoles and South Florida racetrack casinos have Class III machines — slots that operate on an electronic random number generator, like slots everywhere.
What else do they have? A large bingo hall, often with five-figure jackpots, a poker room and a 302-room hotel and golf course that opened when the casino did in 1999. They also allow smoking, because they are not subject to the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act.
Will they ever expand? That would mean working with the federal government, which they are currently battling with over unpaid income taxes. Estimates put their casino revenues at $72 million to $106 million a year, with tribal members each receiving around $100,000 a year. They’re probably thinking that there’s not a lot to gain by changing a profitable, tax-free operation.
For morning poker players, here’s a chance to hit it big. Magic City Casino offers $1,500 high hands from 10 a.m. to noon on weekdays. On weekends, it’s $1,000 from 10 a.m. to noon. Tournaments are at 8 p.m. Monday ($80) and 2 p.m. Thursday ($50).
Rather than offer a set amount for high hands, the Miccosukee poker room lets players spin a wheel for loot. From 10 a.m. through 1 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays, the hourly prizes range from $50 to $1,000, with prize doubled at 10 a.m., 3 p.m., 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. The weekend high hands from 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. are $100 every 15 minutes.
The Isle Casino’s Battles at the Beach series climaxes with a $1,500 buy-in main event that players can enter at noon Friday and Saturday. A $500,000 prize pool is guaranteed.
▪ Hialeah Park gives away $10,000 in cash and free play each Saturday in March. Players club members receive free entries and can earn more entries with every 25 points earned. The prizes are $1,000 in free play hourly from 2 to 4 p.m., $2,000 cash at 5 p.m. Then it’s $1,000 in free play hourly from 9 to 11 p.m., and $2,000 cash at midnight.
▪ Casino Miami gives away a total of $200,000 on weekends in March. Hourly free play drawings run from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The grand prize is $2,500 cash, plus free play prizes ranging from $100 to $1,000.
▪ Ralphie May, described as a “heavyweight” comic, performs at 9 p.m. Friday at The Casino @ Dania Beach and 9 p.m. Saturday at Magic City Casino. May’s comic career took off after appearing as a participant on the first season of Last Comic Standing. Comedy Central specials include Girth of a Nation, Prime Cut, Austin-tatious and Too Big to Ignore. Tickets are $40 at casinodaniabeach.com or magicitycasino.com.
▪ Gulfstream gives away a Honda Fit automobile at 11 p.m. Wednesdays in March. Slot players who earn 100 points Mondays through Wednesdays receive a ticket for the drawing, which begins with smaller prizes at 6 p.m.
▪ Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood brings back its popular “Hard Rockin’ Sevens” promotion from noon to 8 p.m. Sunday. One slot player will be selected every seven minutes to win $777 free play.
Get daily gambling news at Nick Sortal’s SouthFloridaGambling.com or follow via @NickSortal.