On May 6th, 2009, Florida legislators discussed a compromise in their gaming compacts for weeks, but both parties have no agreed to expand gaming in the state. But there are still some important hurdles to resolve.
The House had been opposed to permitting the game of blackjack anywhere in the state but negotiators have agreed not only to allow blackjack but also no-limit game of poker and baccarat at 4 of the Seminole tribe's casino facilities in Tampa and Broward County. Three minor casino facilities in Southwest Florida would only be allowed to offer slot machines. Representative Bill Galvano of Bradenton, Florida said that they have to make some compromises along the way but it is pretty reasonable. There is also talk of bringing the casino games to horse and dog racing tracks.
Under the gaming agreement, that would not happen but the racing tracks would pay less taxes and that would have bigger wagering limits to help them compete evenly with the Seminole tribe. Profit sharing on the casino games would give the state at least $150 million annually to help fund education in Florida.
Representative Alan Williams of Tallahassee said that he will support anyway that the state can produce revenue to directly affect the money being allotted to education. But it is anyone's guess if the Seminole tribe will sign on the compact.
If the agreement passes, it would be an immense victory for Governor Charlie Crist. He signed an expanded compact with the Seminoles in 2007 only to see it cancelled by the state Supreme Court. The justices decided that the gaming compact could not become legal and binding unless the legislature gave their approval.
Wednesday, May 20 , 2009