Florida Legislature Unlikely To Approve New Deal With Seminole Tribe: Report
Future Of State's Tribal Gaming Industry Remains Up In The Air
Legislation to establish a new gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe is stalled in the Florida Senate and likely won’t be moving anywhere this legislative session, according to a report from Tampabay.com.
It’s bad news for a state that benefits economically from the Seminole Tribe’s gaming operations that have propelled Florida to the third largest tribal gaming market in the country, trailing only California and Oklahoma. The Sunshine State’s casino market is worth roughly $2.4 billion annually, and it’s still growing.
Late last year, Florida’s governor brokered a new 20-year deal that would give the state $3 billion over the first seven years and possibly billions more by the end of it, in exchange for letting the Seminoles maintain, as well as expand, some exclusive gambling rights.
The previous compact expired last summer, and the tribe has been continuing business as usual at its seven casinos ever since. However, the Seminoles sued Florida over the former’s claim that its exclusivity for table games has already been breached. Florida has taken the fact that the tribe is currently operating without a compact to court as well.
Lawmakers have been tasked with deciding whether to ratify the new compact negotiated between the governor and the tribe, a deal which also would allow the Seminoles to expand their exclusivity to include craps and roulette in exchange for various other statewide gambling reforms.
Opponents of the new compact say that it has two many complicated provisions to make it moveable through the legislature. One such provision would allow pari-mutuel facilities to stop racing on site but continue with casino operations, such as their poker rooms and slot machines. Some see the de-coupling as a form of gambling expansion.
The risk for Florida in not ratifying the new compact is it losing revenue sharing payments that are still flowing its way despite the lawsuits and the compact being in limbo.
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