Gambling Profits Help Tribe Make $965 Million Deal
CLEWISTON, FLORIDA -- The gambling operator Seminole Tribe of
Florida, with tribal reservations in both Hendry and Glades county,
have signed a contract to purchase the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant and
casino chain from a British gambling company.
The Rank Group says it is selling its 124 cafes, six hotels and two
casinos after an auction conducted by Merrill Lynch. Rank had posted
$70 million in profits last year on the properties. The Seminole
tribe bought the assets for $965 million, subject to Rank stockholder
approval in March.
The Tribe already operates two Hard Rock hotels in Tampa and
Hollywood, Fla, and have had many run ins with Florida officials
since 1979 when they opened the first tribal gambling operation in
the U.S., bingo games in Hollywood, Fla. The Tribe has attempted to
install full Las Vegas style gambling at their casinos for many
years, with officials objecting.
The Internal Revenue Service has also been targeting the tribe and
has been involved in litigation over the use of tax-free bonds used
by the Seminoles to build casinos.
$415 million in tax-free bonds were used for its casinos, which the
IRS said was illegal. Last year the tribe said it would issue $730
million in new bonds to pay off the original bonds and pay down other debt.
3,300 Seminole tribe members live around Florida.