Seminole Tribe Could Present Draft Gambling Compact by Week’s End - Master Gambling Bonuses

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Seminole Tribe Could Present Draft Gambling Compact by Week’s End

Casino News Daily
Seminole Tribe Could Present Draft Gambling Compact by Week’s End

The Seminole Tribe of Florida could present state lawmakers with a draft gambling compact by the end of the week, incoming Senate President Bill Galvano told local media Tuesday after a meeting with Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen and Rep. Jose Oliva.

Sen. Galvano, his colleague from the House, and the casino executive discussed details about a new agreement between the state and the tribe for over an hour on Tuesday. Mr. Allen told media after the meeting that there were details and issues that needed to be solved, but the tribe was ready to work with state legislators toward sorting these out and eventually signing a new gambling compact that would keep much-needed money into Florida’s coffers.

Under a previous compact signed between the Seminoles and the state, the tribe was given exclusivity over the provision of banked card table games, including blackjack, in exchange for regular payments to Florida.

That provision expired in 2015, but the tribe kept the card games at its casinos, arguing that the state had breached its part of the agreement by allowing other, non-tribal, gaming facilities to offer the so-called designated player games. The Seminoles even threatened to stop making payments to the state, unless a new agreement was negotiated.

That resulted in lengthy negotiations and bickering between the involved parties. The matter was even brought to court. A federal judge ruled that the designated player games indeed breached the tribe’s monopoly over banked card games in the state, and the tribe agreed to continue paying a portion of its revenue to Florida. However, tribal officials pointed out that they expected due legislative measures were taken towards the provision of designated player games at non-tribal card rooms.

At present, the tribe is paying a minimum of $250 million per year to the state. That amount was negotiated under the 2010 compact.

Florida legislators and tribal officials are now looking to agree on and sign a new compact before the November ballot that will see state residents cast their votes on a proposed Constitutional amendment that, if approved, would limit significantly the Legislature’s power over making gambling-related legislative decisions.

Following Tuesday’s meeting, Sen. Galvano and Rep. Oliva are optimistic that tribal officials will be able to craft and present a draft agreement by the end of the week.

Stumbling Blocks in the Negotiations

Both the Florida House and Senate presented gambling-focused bills last month. Each chamber of the Legislature will probably look to pass their efforts during the session so that to ensure that certain changes in the state’s gambling landscape will come into effect before the November vote.

However, the two pieces will clash at some point as some of their provisions suggest entirely opposite approaches to gambling in the state. What is more, some of the provisions would certainly be opposed by the tribe as they could come as a breach to a potential compact.

Designated player games could turn into the biggest stumbling block during legislative discussions and negotiations with tribal officials. The House calls for a ban on designated player games at card rooms, which would probably be welcomed by the tribe.

However, the Senate bill would allow for such games to be played across non-tribal facilities but under certain conditions. Commenting on the Senate legislation, Mr. Allen said Tuesday that the piece would be something the tribe and the Legislature would have to work through.

Neither of the two bills contain provisions for the legalization of slot machines at dog and horse race tracks in eight Florida counties that had previously approved the move at county-wide referendums. The proposal appeared in previous gambling bills, but legislators from the two chambers never reached an agreement on it, with the House, traditionally more conservative on gambling expansion matters, opposing it.

The Seminole tribe has also been staunchly opposed to that option. Its Broward and Miami-Dade facilities operate slots at present and it has pointed out that it wants to keep its monopoly over these as part of its previous compact.

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