Gambling Compact Discussions Resume in Florida

Florida

FloridaOfficials of the Seminole Tribe and Lawmakers of Florida begin discussions the gambling compact between the two groups yet again.

Yesterday, officials off the Seminole Tribe of Florida and lawmakers of the state met to begin discussions yet again involving a new gambling compact. The two continue to try and work out how the tribe will be participating in the gambling industry of Florida. Bill Galvano is the incoming senate president and a supporter of gambling expansion who met with the tribal officials, along with Jose Oliva, the incoming House Speaker. The goal was to reopen lines of communication in regards to a gambling plan involving the operations of the casinos that the tribe owns in Florida.

Talks Begin Anew

Galvano and Oliva met with Jim Allen, the CEO of Seminole Gaming, Tribal General Counsel Jim Shore and Marcellus Osceola, the Seminole Tribe Council Chairman yesterday to discuss the gambling compact and try to come up with a plan that both groups can agree on before November, when a ballot will be up for a vote.

During the ballot, residents of the state will be able to decide if they want to be given the final say so when it comes to an expansion of gambling for Florida. If at least 60% of voters decide to vote yes in November, a constitutional amendment would be applied that would limit the power of Legislature in making decisions for the gambling industry as far as expansions are concerned.

The power would then shift to the voters who would have to approve any more gambling changes within the state. After the meeting was concluded, Senator Galvano spoke with the media and stated that lawmakers would like to negotiate a plan with the Seminole Tribe before the vote takes place. According to the Senator, it is important to complete an agreement with the tribe as a big share of the casino revenue generated by the Seminoles are given to the state each year and future contributions must be secured before legislature possibly loses their ability to make decisions in relation to gaming.

Past Issues

A compact signed in 2010 by the tribe and the state gave the Seminoles a monopoly over table games known as ‘banked’ games. In exchange, the tribe would give the state a portion of revenues. Provisions of the compact expired five years later in 2015 and a court battle ensued over the exclusivity of such table games between the tribe and state.

The legal challenge ended once a settlement was reached by Governor Rick Scott and the Seminole Tribe, but the settlement has not been ratified yet. With this new agreement, the casinos would maintain exclusivity and pay $250 million to the state each year to have the monopoly.

Earlier this week, a bill that will see the new compact ratified moved forward. The Senate has also passed a bill that focuses on gambling. With the Senate’s bill, the gambling industry of the state would be overhauled, with new gaming options added.

The covers a controversial issue with language that would see slot machines added to the gaming parlors of the state. In countywide votes in the past, such slot game additions were approved. However, road blocks have stood in the way of the games being installed.

For now, it’s important to note that talks are back on between the tribe and lawmakers. We shall see if agreements will be made and if some compromise can be made before November, ensuring the state will still earn the much-needed funds they already receive from the gaming operations of the tribe or if nothing will be agreed upon and the state ends up in trouble if lawmakers lose their ability to make gambling related changes.