Leading Republican officials all but proclaimed the Seminole gaming agreement dead on November 2nd, 2009 and said that they are considering state voters if they want to permit banked card games like blackjack that would directly compete with the Seminole tribe's casino facilities.
Representative Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale), stated that if the gaming agreement with the Seminole tribe were ratified, they are going to be a destination facility and Florida will be left out of the revenue pie. She and other lawmakers considered an alternative in Tallahassee: allow casino games like blackjack in counties that want to host them.
Bogdanoff said that they could do gaming expansion in a tasteful way so that they would not become a mini Las Vegas strip. Representative Alan Hays (R-Umatilla) proposed that Florida formed a gaming committee and contract with private gaming operators to run casino facilities; similar to how Florida runs the $4 billion a year state Lottery.
That would permit Florida to keep a bigger portion of the profits. Hays said that they can compete with the tribe effectively in this way. The House committee on Seminole gaming met on November 1st, 2009 for the first time since Governor Charlie Crist modified the Indian casino agreement offered by the Florida legislature in May 2009.
After receiving a side-by-side analysis of the two agreements, legislators said that Gov. Crist's gaming proposal is going nowhere, because it excludes pari-mutuel establishments from getting new casino table games like what the Seminole facilities have.
Although legislators are eager to discuss another idea: compete with the Seminole tribe's popular Hard Rock casino facilities in Tampa and Hollywood by giving pari-mutuel facilities or other gaming locations casino table games. Bogdanoff said that a lot of people love to gamble and Florida could lure major conventions to casino-hotel locations. Legislators said that state voters should have the option on whether they will allow expanded gaming in their communities.
That would likely require a referendum to authorize expanded casino gaming in the Florida constitution. Then individual communities could hold a vote on whether to allow blackjack or not. The gaming industry in Florida earns $7 billion annually, including revenues from the state Lottery, eight tribal casino facilities and twenty-seven pari-mutuel establishments.
But blackjack is still considered illegal under the existing state gaming law. So are other Las Vegas casino games like craps and roulette. There are clear signs that the Republican-dominated House, which has resisted gaming expansion, is warming up to the idea. Rep. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), said that they would certainly consider the idea since Gov. Crist's gaming agreement with the Seminole tribe would not pass.0
Sunday, November 22 , 2009