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Two Contrasting Gaming Proposals in Florida

Amid warnings and criticism that expanding gaming is not a good decision for Florida this year, a House committee approved a scaled back Indian gaming proposal on April 3rd, 2009. The Florida House select committee on tribal gambling compact voted 17-1 to give the Seminole Indian Tribe the exclusive privilege to offer Florida gamers Class III or Las Vegas style slot machines at its seven casino establishments in the state of Florida in exchange for $100 million annually.

The gaming proposal allows Governor Charlie Crist to renegotiate a new gaming compact that has been cancelled by the Florida Supreme Court, but it also requires the Governor to order the Seminole Tribe to stop offering blackjack and baccarat it received under Governor Crist's original gaming compact. The state Supreme Court of Florida found out the card games to be illegal since there no specific law permitting them.

Representative Bill Galvano, the Brandenton Republican who heads the Florida House committee in the gaming compact, stated that the gaming plan is good balance between the Seminole tribe's right to offer Las Vegas style slot machines and the desire of legislators to limit gaming in the state of Florida. The gaming proposal would allot most of Florida's share of the Seminole gaming revenue to state education but keep five percent to local government and community programs like addressing the consequences of gaming.

The gaming plan of the House of Representatives is contrast to the gaming plan that the Senate approved out of its first committee meeting last week. The Senate has proposed to allow the tribe to operate full casinos, including offering the games of craps and roulette for the first time, slashing the tax rate on slot machines at horse racing tracks and dog racing tracks and jai alai frontons.

It also allows racinos-racing tracks that offer slot machines-to offer games like blackjack. The Senate gaming agreement would also give pari-mutuels surrounding Miami Dade and Broward counties and including the ones in Tampa Bay the opportunity to offer Class II slot machines.

Meanwhile, Governor Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe continued to convince legislators to approve the original gaming compact, which would give $100 million annually to Florida or $288 million by the end of the 2010 fiscal year.

Governor Crist said that the state will possess more funds for education if the legislators will approve the original compact. The director of the Florida School Boards Association, Wayne Blanton said that the gaming compact is important for the future of the schools in the state. Bill Montford, the chief of the Florida's Superintendent's Association said that his group supports Governor Crist's approach to the issue.


Wednesday, April 22 , 2009
Emma Green