Seminole Tribe and Florida Officials to Discuss New Compacts

The lawmakers of Florida and the Seminole Tribe have been in strong disagreement over a key provision when it comes to a former compact related to gambling that has expired five years ago. The two sides definitely needed to sit down and talk about new compacts, and it seems that the solution is actually closer than we might think. The resolution is out there, and the new compact would probably include provision expansion in Florida.

According to their previous compact, which became active back in 2010, the Seminole tribe owned an agreement about revenue sharing. In other words, part of their revenue would go to the state of Florida, which means that the Seminole tribe basically paid hundreds of millions of dollars directly into the coffers of the Sunshine State. The compact had to be renewed in 2015, which was pretty difficult since both sides were unable to reach an agreement. Governor Rick Scott somehow managed to convince the Seminole tribe to renew their compact, despite the fact that they were not really content with it. Therefore, their revenue sharing agreement continued to live on while the two sides were searching for some better options in order to create an equilibrium where they are both happy.

Therefore, the loose agreement that they came upon in 2015 will expire in May, and they are bound to come up with a new one sooner or later. This fact alone will cause the loss of up to $350 million in 2019, and the Senate has already imposed high taxes in order to secure the state budget, should they do not reach an agreement with the tribe.

One of the main reasons why such an agreement was not possible in the past is that the tribe claims that the state has violated previous compacts. In fact, 2016 was pretty much a turbulent year for the Seminoles tribe which took the state of Florida to court claiming that Florida officials were not allowed to introduce blackjack at pari-mutuel tracks, as Seminoles had an exclusive right to this card game. The court actually agreed on this and sided with the Seminoles. This escalated in a full-time hatred between the two sides, with Seminoles threatening to put an end to the revenue-shared system which would severely affect Florida’s budget. All of this tension was later approached by Scott who made both sides cooperate once again, making a short term deal which would expire soon.

Both sides are quite aware of this fact which is the reason why they sat down last week trying to figure out everything and come up with a deal that would be beneficial for both sides. Senator Wilton Simpson is the one who is currently leading the discussions as the two sides have a very tight deadline that they must not cross. In other words, we will have an opportunity to hear the news about a potential agreement very soon, as days, if not hours, are left for them to complete their talks.

Florida has been pretty active when it comes to gambling, as voters decided in a poll that they should be the ones in charge when it comes to controlling gambling in the state. A ballot in November 2018 put all activities related to gambling in the hands of the residents of Florida who will also decide on things such as expansions. On the other hand, many officials of Florida, including Governor Ron DeSantis, do not feel like giving the Seminole tribe more autonomy when it comes to gambling. In other words, this fight might be far from over.