The state of Florida's pari-mutuel gaming market is criticizing the modified Seminole gaming compact, stating that it would only bring financial ruin for the betting tracks and they stated that they will fight it. That could spell disaster for the casinos-for-cash agreement, which already faces a critical legislature.
At first glance, the deal that was signed by Governor Charlie Crist with the Seminoles on August 31st, 2009 is filled with bonuses for pari-mutuel locations like dog and horse racing tracks and jai alai frontons, smaller taxes for some locations and expanded poker gaming. But the new agreement also gives the Seminoles the exclusive right to offer blackjack and Class III slot machines in Florida outside of Miami-Dade County and Broward County, the only 2 counties with voter-approved slot machines.
That would give the Seminole tribe a twenty-year statewide monopoly on casino games. It would lock out the pari-mutuel industry, which has considerable roots in Florida and employs twenty-five thousand people. The Seminoles would pay Florida at least $150 million annually for edging out the competition.
Lobbyist Ron Brook, who represents the Flagler Dog Racetrack, said that it is a lousy gaming compact. The pari-mutuel industry's considerable reach in the Republican-dominated Legislature should also not be ignored. Lobbyist disclosure forms states that gaming interests have spent a total of $5 million lobbying Florida officials since 2008-about 5 times more that the Seminole Tribe.
Palm Beach Kennel Club manager Michael Glenn said on September 2nd, 2009 that even though pari-mutuel officials are frequently at odds with one another, they believe that the new Seminole gaming compact would be a serious blow to the pari-mutuel gaming market.
With state legislators considering a special session in October 2009, gambling lobbyist are urging state legislators to make some considerable changes in the compact to permit pari-mutuel gaming expansion.
A lobbyist for Palm Beach Kennel Club, Brian Ballard said that a legislative change in the compact is possible. He said that if the new compact is ratified, it could spell disaster for pari-mutuel businesses in the state of Florida. A total of 8 pari-mutuel facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties are in good shape: they could offer blackjack without affecting the Seminole compact as long as state legislators permit them.
The president of Mardi Gras Racing in Hallandale Beach, Dan Adkins said that he is in favor of allowing South Florida to offer blackjack. Florida has a total of twenty-seven pari-mutuel establishments including the biggest collection of dog and horse racing tracks in Florida.
The establishment produces $1.3 billion in revenue and pays the state more than $160 million in taxes but pari-mutuels are mired in a steady decline due to a change in consumer demands, the weak economy, stiff competition from Indian gaming and online casinos.
Tuesday, September 22 , 2009