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Federal Government Extends the Deadline for Florida and Seminole Talks

Federal officials have extended the deadline for Florida state officials to reach a gaming agreement with the Seminole Tribe until September 11th, 2007, according to Gov. Charlie Crist.

Gov. Crist said that he is hoping that the gambling compact could produce $1.4 billion dollars to solve the budget deficit and avoid any cuts to the budget when the legislators meet in a special meeting on September 18th, 2007.

Florida is negotiating with the Seminole Tribe regarding the issue of allowing Category Class III Slot machines and casino table games like blackjack and baccarat. The games are currently illegal in Florida. Both Gov. Crist and the Seminole Tribe commented that they are making good progress with their talks but are uncertain on when will the agreement be finalized.

The attorney for the tribe, Barry Richard said that the representatives of the Seminole Tribe have presented a proposal containing various scenarios. Sources said that the negotiators for the Gov. Crist are inclined to give the Seminole Tribe the Class III casino table games but a lot of issues are not yet resolve.

The deadline is raising a lot of talks about whether the federal officials have the right to schedule a deadline for the talks. Sen. Steve Geller of Hallandale Beach, the Senate Democratic leader, and an expert on gaming law said that there is no instance in the history of the country where the Department of Interior has overruled the state over its gaming objections.

Gambling critics led by House Speaker Marco Rubio are also stepping up their campaign against the gambling expansion of the Seminole Tribe. In a letter to state Attorney General, Bill McCollum, Rubio said that Crist may be giving the tribe more than it is needed to follow the federal law.

The law in the state now allows slot machines at the three racing tracks and one jai-alai fronton located in Broward County but does not permit casino table games like blackjack and baccarat.

Critics are wary that an agreement between the Seminole Tribe and the state will allow racing tracks to offer Class III games too in the near future.

House of Representatives Democratic Leader Dan Gelber has asked Gov. Crist to include protection for gambling employees on the deal similar to those that can be found in a gambling compact in California.


Tuesday, September 11 , 2007
Tim Arnell