In another serious blow to the chances for quick ratification of Governor Charlie Crist's Seminole gambling agreement, Representative Bill Galvano has set aside an October 2009 hearing on the gaming issue and is instead spearheading a broad-scope review at gaming in Florida.
Rep. Galvano (Republican-Bradenton) sent a letter to the members of his committee on Indian gambling on September 22nd, 2009, informing them that it would not convene on October 5th, 2009 for committee hearings on the issue.
Instead, Rep. Galvano said that the committee would start looking "at the bigger outlook" not just the gaming compact but Florida gambling in its totality, so they could meet in November 2009 and decide how they will move forward in this issue.
That makes a November 2009 special session to approve Gov. Crist's new gaming compact highly unlikely. Senate President Jeff Atwater (Republican-North Palm Beach) already ruled against an October special session and sent Gov. Crist's aides a lengthy questionnaire about the effects of his proposed Seminole gaming agreement. Galvano said that he has doubts about whether the gap between the legislators and the Seminole tribe can be resolved.
He said that they have worked hard to try to achieve a balance between the interests of Florida, the tribe and the pari-mutuel industry but he is not sure if it is possible to do given the new proposal that came from the Seminoles. He added that there is still a big gap between where the members of the upper and lower house have been and where the Seminoles want to go.
The main sticking points on the new agreement are the exclusivity provisions. The proposed gaming compact would give the tribe the sole rights to Class III slot machine and banked card games like blackjack outside the counties of Miami-Dade and Broward. The two counties have voter approved Class III gaming.
If the legislature or the state voters approved casino-style gaming beyond Miami-Dade and Broward County, the tribe's agreement with Florida would be voided (along with the guaranteed annual $150 million gaming payment).
Galvano said that when you examine the level of exclusivity that the Seminoles want in the new agreement and match that with the amount the tribe wants to pay, it begs the question on whether they are maximizing gambling revenues in Florida.
He said that the payments should match the degree of exclusivity. He added that since they have 7 full-on gaming facilities that offers banked card games like blackjack aside from Class III slot machines, the payment of the tribe to the state should be bigger.
Monday, November 16 , 2009