Plans for gambling expansion in Florida are going to be delayed yet again. The plan will undoubtedly be revived next year but those opposed to expanding gambling in the Sunshine State have gotten their wish, at least for now.
Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples) made the surprising announcement during a recent Senate budget discussion after it became apparent that ongoing negotiations between Gov. Rick Scott and the Seminole Indian tribe on the latter’s gambling exclusivity rights wasn’t making enough progress.
“Recently it has become very apparent to all of us who are tracking this issue that unless the governor negotiates a new compact with the Seminole tribe, there won’t be any comprehensive reform legislation this year,” Richter said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “Sound policy must take into account the compact’s substantial revenue sharing and exclusivity provisions.”
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen.
It probably wouldn’t have been much of an issue had it not between for an agreement the state made with the Seminoles that gave the tribe exclusivity on several games, severely dampening any casino’s potential offerings without any modifications made in the agreement. Making things more problematic for those supporting expanded gambling in the state is the fact that the contract betweens state and tribe expires in 2030.
There is a provision on some games that’ll end next year, and that’s the opening the governor is talking with the tribes about. Those negotiations are what Richter pointed to as the ones that could potentially alter the current structure of the current legislation, presenting Richter and his fellow supporters the opening it needs to push for expanded gambling.
For now, the group sees the benefits of tabling legislation for another year because violating the Seminoles’ exclusivity could present bigger headaches for the state. “If we put the gaming reform cart in front of the Seminole compact horse, we run the risk of getting policies at cross purposes.”