TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) —  The Seminole Tribe of Florida confirmed Thursday what those following the gaming debate already knew – it will fight efforts to expand non-tribal gaming outside of South Florida.

The tribe, which operates seven casinos, has an exclusive compact with the state granting it the right to offer slots and certain banked card games outside of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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While a destination gaming resort bill (SB 710) currently before lawmakers is aimed at allowing new casino gaming only in South Florida, it has generated hopes by some of expanding beyond those two counties.

“Rumors and hopes of casinos seem to be exploding all over the state,” Seminole Tribal President Tony Sanchez, Jr., said in a statement put out by the tribe on Thursday. “It is time for both the tribe and the state to protect our mutual interests, as defined by the compact.”

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The Seminole Tribe’s chief, James Billie, also took exception Thursday to the characterization of the compact by lawmakers as irrelevant.

“Those comments are incorrect and inappropriate” Billie said.

The compact, which was negotiated by former Governor Charlie Crist’s administration, guarantees $1 billion to the state over five years in exchange for certain exclusive gaming rights.

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“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”