Joe Negron in Favor of New Seminole Blackjack Compact

by Jim Hall

Joe NegronNewly elected Senate President in Florida, Joe Negron, has stated he is in favor of a new gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The state of Florida has been going back and forth for some time in regards to the Seminole Tribe and what they should be allowed to offer by way of casino gaming. For some time now, the tribe has held a monopoly of sorts in various sectors of gaming and legislators have tried to come to an agreement again to continue a partnership with the tribe. Now it seems a new member of legislation is ready to assist the tribe with a new compact.

Joe Negron was recently sworn in as the Senate President in the state and has spoken with media, stating that he would be in support of a new gambling compact with the tribe. He would support a compact if it means that additional revenues would be placed in the coffers of the state.

A Little Background

Back in 2010, the Seminole tribe had signed an agreement with the state that would last for a twenty year time frame. The agreement gave the tribe the right to operate blackjack exclusively in the state for a five year time frame. In return for the exclusive operating rights, the state would be provided with almost $1.7 billion from the tribe during the five years.

This period ended in 2015 on the 31st of July. However, the tribe did not stop offering their blackjack gaming. They continued and argued that the state had actually breached the provision of exclusivity by allowing the horse and dog tracks of the state to operate non-house banked table games. Both the tribe and the state countersued each other and each party stated that the other were in violation of the compact.

Earlier in November, a federal judge agreed with the Seminole Tribe and allowed them to continue to offer house banked table games until 2030, which is the year in which the original agreement would expire.

Almost Agreeing

The tribe and Governor Rick Scott had almost amended their issues earlier in the year, reaching an agreement that would have continued the monopoly of the tribe for seven years in exchange for $3 billion in casino revenues given to the state. The proposed legislation with the deal included was unable to pass muster and was shot down by lawmakers as the bill included a gambling expansion.

The new Senate President expressed his hopes that a new agreement will be able to be negotiated within the next legislative session. This new session will begin in March of this year. Negron pointed out that he will be supportive of a proposal that is fair for all gambling related parties and will provide more revenues for the state.

While the Senate president is in favor, the House of Representatives may not be. Just this week, the House Speaker, Richard Corcoran, stated that the Chamber is very conservative and that an agreement would only pass muster if it were conservative. Any legislation should call for a reduction of gambling instead of an expansion.

For now, there will be no changes and the tribe will continue to offer their blackjack gaming based on the original agreement. By next year, the state should see some type of legislation created to bring about a new agreement between Florida and the Seminole Tribe. It will be interesting to watch and see just what type of agreement will be created and what the state as well as the tribe will be able to receive.