The state of Florida and the Seminole tribe are talking again.
The impasse between the two parties appears to be easing following renewed talks about the tribe’s right to offer games, such as blackjack, at its casinos.
News outlet The News Service of Florida reported last Friday that negotiators from the Senate, House and Gov. Rick Scott’s office met with the tribe as recently as last week. The discussion could pave the way for a turnaround from the standoff between the two parties, with the possibility of a new deal before the deadline in October.
In 2010, the state and the tribe signed a gambling compact that gave the Seminoles exclusive rights to provide popular card games at its casinos in Broward County, Tampa, and Immokalee. In return, the tribe guaranteed $1 billion in state revenue.
The compact expired last July 30, and without a new deal, the Seminoles only have 90 days to continue offering the card games. Both parties hope to finalize a new deal before the time is up, but talks broke down during the regular legislative session last spring.
Tribal officials said the state had already violated the compact when it allowed tracks across South Florida to operate electronic card games.
Sun-Sentinel quoted Sen. Rob Bradley, chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries, saying that they are “making progress” in the negotiations. Aside from Bradley, Scott’s top lawyer Tim Cerio and House Regulatory Affairs Chairman Jose Felix Diaz attended the meetings with tribal representatives over the past three weeks.
Bradley remains “hopeful” despite the deadline looming close, saying “The closer we get to the deadline, the more pressure is put upon the parties to find a resolution. Deadlines are very useful in that way.”
Mississippi casino revenues up in July
Meanwhile, casinos in Mississippi reported a strong July performance.
The State Revenue Department posted on its website that the gross gaming revenue for casinos statewide reached $189.6 million in July, up 5 percent from $180.3 million in the same period last year.
The 11 casinos from the Gulf Coast counties raked in $104.2 million, up 9 percent from last year, while the 17 casinos along the Mississippi River managed to win $85.4 million, which is a slight increase from $84.8 million in 2014.
Revenues from the Choctaw Indian casinos are not included since they don’t report their winnings to the state.