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Florida Senate Creates New Seminole Gaming Proposal

The Florida Senate has created a new Seminole Indian gambling proposal-but this time, the state Senate is telling Governor Charlie Crist and the Seminole tribe that they can take it or leave it. The new Senate gaming proposal has the same terms as last year's version.

It would give the Seminole tribe the right to offer the game of blackjack at four of its seven gaming facilities, including the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood and the Coconut Creek Casino in exchange for at least $150 million annually.

But the Senate placed a language in the new proposal that states that the "governor is not allowed to negotiate or implement a gaming compact that has any provision that is not consistent or differs with the terms for a gaming compact set in this bill".

When the Florida legislature set the conditions for a Seminole gambling agreement last May 2009 without that extra language, Governor Charlie Crist and the Seminole tribe promptly gave the deal a makeover.

For example, Gov. Charlie Crist's proposal gave the Seminole tribe the opportunity to offer blackjack at all seven of its gaming facilities and blocked the tribe's gaming competitors, jai-alai frontons and pari-mutuel facilities from offering casino games for twenty years.

That plan was dismissed by the legislature. Senator Dennis Jones (R-Seminole), the chairman of the Regulated Industries Committee, which handles gambling in the state, said that Gov. Crist and the tribe basically made a lot of changes in the legislation that they have created. He said that as far as he knows, they do not have the right to change it.

For the first time, the Seminole tribe's representatives and top Florida legislators have been holding talks in Tallahassee. Rep. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton), the main man in the House on gaming issues, said on March 7th, 2010 that the talks are showing some progress.

The tribe's attorney, Barry Richard, said on Saturday that he is not worried about the new Senate gaming legislation, which he said could change if the two sides reach an agreement.

The Senate Bill will get a hearing on March 10th, 2010 in Tallahassee but not a decision. The Senate legislation also includes changes to help the pari-mutuel industry in the state. Pari-mutuel facilities in South Florida, which offers voter-approved slot machines, would receive a tax break.

Poker rooms across Florida could also host no-limit poker games with expanded gaming hours. These provisions in favor of pari-mutuel facilities would take effect even if the Seminole tribe does not agree with them.


Monday, March 22 , 2010
Kim Watson