Florida Gaming Bill May be Rejected

Written By Janice Doughtrey

A $300 billion agreement has been made between the Florida Seminole Tribe and Governor Rick Scott in regards to gaming in Florida. However, there are concerns that the Florida Legislature may reject this gaming deal even though the money would financially benefit the state.

The Florida Gaming Congress held their annual meeting last Thursday. Bill Galvano, the Senate Majority Leader, attended the meeting, which was held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort of Orlando. Galvano has worked with Governor Scott in the past, authoring former deals that Scott worked on. He expressed concerns regarding this current deal, stating during the meeting for gambling industry executives that more input was necessary. He found that the gaming compact that was created in December needed additional input beyond the Florida Seminole Tribe and the Governor.

He suggested the input from those who operate dog tracks and horse races, should be sought out before the deal was considered by the legislature. Many believe that the Legislature may be more concerned about statewide gambling instead of exclusively helping the Seminole gambling deal. There is a real possibility that this compact will not be approved during this session. This can lead to a new legal challenge from the Seminole Tribe regarding blackjack, something that was part of the last deal.

According to information that Galvano provided, the tribe will be required to stop offering such cards games. This is already causing waves, as James Allen, the Seminole Tribe CEO, has stated that the tribe is within their legal rights to continue to operate card games such as blackjack. Allen has previously stated that litigation is not the tribe’s goal. They would prefer to come to a resolution, have a compact signed and passed, and move forward with the next twenty years of positive relationships they have with Florida.

Allen remains hopeful that this current compact will pass. The Tribe worked closely with the Senate, House and the governor to create a “great” working foundation for the current session. The compact should be reviewed by legislators by the second week of the sixty-day session, which begins on Tuesday, Galvano stated. There is concern that for all of the issues that are currently before them to be addressed, it could take until the 2017 session.

While the Seminole Tribe is unhappy with the possibility of rejection, companies are thrilled that they state is considering them in this compact. Many are not pleased with the new deal and feel as though they are losing ground in Florida. Under the new agreement, the Florida Seminole Tribe will hold exclusive rights to roulette, blackjack, and craps in their seven casinos. In return, they offer revenue sharing payments for the twenty-year time frame that are worth three billion dollars.