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Florida Compact With Seminoles Faces Uphill Battle

Legislature Won't Be Approving The Deal As Is: Report

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The Sunshine State won’t have clear skies this year on the casino issue.

Florida’s governor recently signed a new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe, which would give the state $3 billion over the next seven years. However, lawmakers in the state very likely will not sign off on the deal, according to a report from newsherald.com.

Under the deal, the tribe gets the exclusive right to offer blackjack at its Las Vegas-style casinos, as well as add craps and roulette. Florida has sued the Seminoles in federal court after the previous compact expired and the tribe continued to offer blackjack. Despite the suit, the tribe doesn’t plan on closing its table games.

The previous compact with the Seminoles was signed in 2010 and expired July 31.

Under the new compact, the possibility exists for the Seminoles to stop payments if the state authorizes online gaming, which the state lottery has expressed interest in.

The problem with the compact, according to lawmakers, is that it would pave the way for expanded gambling in the state. Under the new deal, the state can consider allowing parimutuels to operate slot casinos in South Florida. Racinos could also operate limited blackjack in the future. Pari-mutuels might also be able to decouple their offerings, meaning that that they could do away with racing and keep poker and slot machines, which are more profitable.

Florida currently has nearly 30 poker rooms.

The complexity of the gambling expansion reportedly has some lawmakers concerned, as some are OK with some components of the deal but disagree with others.

Florida has had a hard time over the past several years with reforming its gambling industry. In 2014, Las Vegas Sands Corp., the largest casino developer in the world in terms of revenue, abandoned its lobbying efforts to build a multi-billion-dollar casino in South Florida because of the role the Seminoles play in the state’s gambling landscape.

A bill was introduced last year for the mega-resorts, but it was opposed by the likes of Disney. Rep. Dana Young, a Republican from Tampa, introduced the massive 316-page proposal dubbed the “Gaming Control Act of 2015," last winter, but the measure didn’t gain any traction.