CASINO

Substitute bill could pave way for Seminole compact, expanded gambling across Florida

TAGs: florida, Gambling Compact, Gov. Rick Scott, Jasmine Solana, Seminole Tribe

A 122-page measure could be the key that the Seminole tribe’s $3.1 billion gaming compact to finally move ahead in the Florida Legislature.

Substitute bill could pave way for Seminole compact, expanded gambling across FloridaFiled over the weekend, the “proposed committee substitute” contains revisions to the new gambling deal between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, according to FloridaPolitics.com. However, the new House measure is expected to “keep intact the guts” of the 20-year gaming compact, while also allowing for expanded gambling opportunities throughout Florida.

The original gaming deal will allow two new slots licenses—one at the Palm Beach Kennel Club and another for a potential new venue in Miami-Dade—but the proposed revision “allows slot machines in five of six counties where voters approved the gambling in local referendums” and “freezes the issuance of any new pari-mutuel permits, save for one in Miami-Date County.”

The proposal also allows expanded blackjack in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, albeit with a $25 bet limit, in addition to allowing dog tracks to “decouple,” or stop running live races in exchange for the more profitable slot machines and card rooms.

The Seminoles compact is poised to give the state an estimated $9 billion in a period of 20 years, thanks to the revenue-sharing agreements. It also guarantees that the tribe will continue to enjoy its rights to offer blackjack and other house-banked card games at all seven of its casinos.

The substitute clarified that any changes that will be made to the deal “do not impact the agreement’s revenue sharing, payments, violate the Tribe’s exclusivity, or authorize the Tribe to conduct online gaming,” according to FloridaPolitics.com. In addition, the revisions would still allow Seminoles to offer craps and roulette in “Broward, Glades, Hendry, Collier, and Hillsborough counties.”

The House Finance and Tax Committee is scheduled to take up the substitute measure, alongside other gambling related legislation, on Monday.

In the Senate, Gov. Rick Scott’s gaming compact also took a tentative step forward, courtesy of an amended proposal from Senate President-designate Joe Negron.

Negron’s version, which will see six counties get slot machines and allow race tracks to replace live racing with slots and card rooms, also brought serious changes to the Seminole deal. In his speech, Negron said “a pure gaming compact won’t pass,” especially since in order to get further ahead in the Legislature, it needs the votes of the lawmakers who have been divided between those who refuse a gambling expansion and those who want slot machines in the counties.

If the gaming compact is approved, the tribe promised to invest $1.8 billion to improve its marquee properties in Hollywood and Tampa, including building a 36-floor hotel shaped like a guitar to complement a new Hard Rock Café at its Hollywood complex.

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