Florida, Seminole Tribe Reach $3 Billion Gambling Deal

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Florida Governor Signs $3 Billion Guaranteed Gaming Compact with Seminole Tribe.

SINCE the Grand Coulee Dam flooded our reservation in the 1930s, the Spokane Tribe has sought economic development projects to help sustain our 3,000 members.Senate President Andy Gardiner said Monday that it remains unlikely that the House and Senate will renew the banked card games portion of the gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe in time to include the money in the 2016-17 budget.

The lead negotiator for the Senate said Monday he was optimistic. “I think it’s a good, fair deal for the people of the State of Florida,” said Sen. For its part, the tribe gets to keep card games such as blackjack at their casinos across the state, including the Seminole Hard Rock casinos in Tampa and Hollywood, and to add table games such as roulette and craps.

Among the many issues on the table, for example, is the prospect of allowing slot machines in Palm Beach County while requiring that any future expansion of gambling get statewide voter approval. “Unless there was a drastic change, I don’t think we would include it either way,” Gardiner said. “We’re anticipating it not being there. Administration officials discussed a possible lawsuit over those payments, while Florida newspapers speculated whether the casino deal ever would get done. Among those provisions will be debates over whether legislators want to grant blackjack to the existing pari-mutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties in return for losing the revenue from the tribe from its blackjack operations, whether it will lower the tax on parimutuels to 25 percent, de-couple dog and horse racing from other gaming operations and allow pari-mutuels outside of South Florida to operate a card game called “designated player games.” But the measure also opens the door to expanded gaming, especially in South Florida where the Malaysian company, Genting, has said it wants to build a full casino resort on Biscayne Bay on the site of the former Miami Herald building. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, to remain the Senate’s point person on negotiations with the Tribe and, while he has heard from Bradley that they are “still talking,’’ few details have been worked out, Gardiner said.

We objected to allowing another tribe’s casino in the heart of our ancestral homelands, and we pointed out that our two remote casinos would never recover, which would prompt us to open a casino closer to metropolitan Spokane. The current proposal, which expires in 2030, includes the proposal that has given the tribe the exclusive right to operate black jack at five of its seven casinos in exchange for more than $100 million in revenue sharing with the state each year.

Absent from the agreement was any provision to allow for slot machines to be operated at the dog track in Bonita Springs, near Fort Myers, and in Gretna, west of Tallahassee, without violating the terms of the compact. Jay Inslee has the opportunity to bring fairness to the West Plains of Spokane County, and to set a new off-reservation gambling policy for the state that is anchored in a proper respect for tribal ancestral territory. Both communities had held local voter referendums and won approval to operate slot machines, and both were hoping the compact would give them the same provisions as Palm Beach. The big question remains whether Scott and the tribe can win support from a recalcitrant Legislature that often is divided deeply over gambling issues.

Some Republicans and legislators from Central Florida remain opposed to expanded gambling, fearful of its potential impact on tourist destinations such as Disney World. Also, the South Florida racetracks also received permission to seek a vote from Floridians on whether to include limited blackjack betting in the racinos’ gaming spaces. That provision expired July 31 and this proposal extends the deal another 20 years and imposes a cap on the amount of gaming that can be offered by the tribe.

A: Pari-mutuel owners are exploiting concerns about the health and safety of greyhounds to make a full transition to multipurpose betting parlors and high-stakes casino gambling. The new agreement starts with a minimum guarantee of revenue to the state at $325 million a year in the first year and rises to $550 million in the seventh year. We face staggering social, health and environmental problems as historic sources of tribal revenue no longer exist, are in decline, and are near flatlining. Instead of gifting failing gambling enterprises with more forms of gambling, we have proposed buying back pari-mutuel licenses and humanely retiring greyhounds. Rob Bradley, a north Florida Republican who was involved in the discussions, would not say for certain if legislators would approve the gambling deal.

But he praised the final agreement. “I think we have made significant progress with the tribe,” Bradley said. “We have a product that is ready for consideration. … Genting owns the only casino in New York City (Resorts World Queens) and is build the most expensive casino ever built in Las Vegas: Resorts World Las Vegas.

Voters have rejected them time and again because they increase crime, gambling addiction, government corruption and other social ills that taxpayers ultimately pay for. They also would threaten Florida’s multibillion-dollar family-friendly tourism brand that has led our economy forward while gambling-dependent economies continue to lag. Q: Gambling proponents argue that Florida should follow the lead of some other states — allow and regulate more casinos, using tax proceeds to improve public services like education.

Compare that to the large budget surpluses enjoyed by Florida, which researchers at George Mason University recently declared one of the most fiscally sound states in the nation. Lastly, look at how Nevada’s gambling economy floundered after the Great Recession, whereas Florida’s family-friendly tourism market more quickly rebounded and led the state’s recovery. Las Vegas-style casinos and our tourism marketing are not compatible, as Las Vegas discovered when it tried to copy our family-brand in the 1990’s and failed miserably. They were made legal 3 years ago and they argue that a strict ban on them now would confuse players, who might think they were gambling illegally all the time.

We were authorized to do it and then we’re not authorized.” Greg Gelyon, the VP of Tampa Bay Downs, said the decision to “yank” designated player games from his complex would lead to “a rumor mill that will go wild.” Jonathan Zachem, the director of the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering, says that the activity is banned under current state law. “It has to be specifically authorized,” said Jonathan Zachem when asked about such gaming.

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