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Florida Senate and House Struggles to Find Middle Ground in Seminole Gaming Compact

On April 29th, 2009, just as Senate President Jeff Atwater all but conceded the gaming proposals could be abandoned for now this legislative session, the Senate gaming negotiators made an attractive offer to its counterparts in the lower House late Wednesday like abandoning the games of craps of roulette for the Seminoles as had been the main offer in its original proposal.

Other provisions in the compact include limiting gaming in Seminole casinos located in Brighton, Big Cypress, and Immokalee-with a specific definition as to what it really means to come. The Seminole tribe is also required to pay $500 million in upfront cash for the 1st year of gaming, with the profit dropping to $400 million minimum in the 2nd year and $250 million minimum for the remaining twenty-three years.

The pari-mutuel facilities in Broward and Miami-Dade County could seek state voter referendum to offer blackjack at the cardrooms and pay a total of $25 million to offer the games. Aside from that, pari-mutuels located outside of Broward and Miami-Dade could feature slot machines if they acquire a county referendum and pay a license fee of $3 million but if they do not ask for slot machines, they can acquire historic racing games and gaming age is improved to twenty-one years old.

Representative Bill Galvano, the main House negotiator said that he is hopeful about the whole situation. Galvano said that the idea that voters will have a say on whether to allow slot machines or not through a vote was a very good idea. Galvano said that the Seminole tribe may have some trouble accepting some of the provisions in the gaming compact. Atwater said that finding a middle ground in this issue will be difficult because they have to convince the 3rd party to agree with the final gaming compact and he believes that they are in for a long run.


Tuesday, May 19 , 2009
Kim Watson