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Florida Lawmakers and Seminole Officials Continues to Discuss Gaming Compact

After years of difficult talks, there are talks that a Seminole gaming deal could finally be approved. Florida legislators say that the two chambers and the Seminole tribe are closer than ever on approving a compact that could permit a five-year blackjack legalization at Seminole gaming facilities that already offers casino table games and some form of exclusivity on slot machines except in the counties of Miami-Dade and Broward.

House Representative Bill Galvano, who has been leading the talks, said that he is meeting the Seminole tribe on March 22nd, 2010 or March 23rd, 2010.

A gaming agreement could come next week although Rep. Galvano added that he does not want to give a specific time frame but he is hoping that they could get it done as soon as possible. It appears that the Seminole tribe would get a five-year approval to manage blackjack tables at its casino facilities in Coconut Creek, Hollywood, Immokalee and Tampa.

That is a compromise for the Florida legislature. In 2009, the Senate and the House wanted the Seminoles to stop blackjack table that were already being offered at the Immokalee casino facility in the Naples-Ft. Myers gaming market-something the tribe were reluctant to do.

The tribe proposed the idea of having a maximum number of blackjack tables divided across all of its seven casino facilities but Rep. Galvano is not keen on the idea. He said that they want to keep the game in as few casino facilities as possible. He added that limiting the number of blackjack table at casino facilities that offer them could also affect Florida's revenue share.

Rep. Galvano said that the five-year authorization on blackjack would accomplish two things: it will clear up the federal gaming law and it will also force them to evaluate where they are going as a state in terms of gaming.

Rep. Galvano said that the Seminole tribe is looking for some kind of slots exclusivity. The Seminole tribe is opposed to a statewide approval of Class II video lottery terminals, which look like and functions like slot machines.

Rep. Galvano said that there will be some exceptions to the exclusivity since the tribe has been very opposed to the VLT's especially with the amount that they are paying on the slot machines. He added that House and Senate staff are currently discussing on how to hammer out the technical aspects of the agreement.

Sen. J.D. Alexander (R-Lake Wales) said that he will only believe that the Seminole gaming agreement is close when he sees it personally.


Monday, April 12 , 2010
Emma Green