On Wednesday, Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford spoke to reporters from the Associated Press at the Florida capital about possibly postponing legislation on gambling expansion another year. Of course, those waiting on the legislation that was expected to be worked on during the 2014 session are notably disappointed. Some of the expected provisions on the bill this year were said to include Las Vegas styled destination casino resorts that would bring in millions in taxable revenue.
The debate was thought to get pretty heated. However, it appears that it will not occur in the coming legislation later in 2014. Gaetz stated, “There are some issues that are forced on us…gaming is an issue that is forced to the stage, either this year or next year.” He effectively brought attention to the fact that there truly is no deadline for the legislation and that there is very little push behind addressing the gambling expansion within the state other than the Seminole Compact.
On the other hand, the Seminole Compact does in fact have an expiration date regardless of what Gaetz belives . This particular agreement permits the Seminole Tribe of Florida to allow blackjack and other card games at certain sties that include the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino of Tampa. That specific deal in itself is worth millions to the state of Florida annually.
With the card game provision set to expire around the middle of 2015, the only exception would be a renewal via an affirmative act by the Florida Legislature. This is stated rather clearly in the agreement which was signed in the spring of 2010. The Seminole Compact guarantees to the state a minimum of one billion dollars from the Seminole tribe’s income through gambling over a five year period. However, it also allows the tribe certain exclusive rights to provide Las Vegas style gambling outside of both Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
In the case that the tribe loses this gambling expansion exclusive, the Seminoles may choose to cease all payments. Though this could prove quite beneficial to the state of Florida, gambling simply is not a hot topic on the table for Florida legislators.
Sadly, though the legislators seemingly are uninterested, the card game provision will expire soon and that will mean a lot of money lost. It is unclear when they may choose to actually take steps towards gambling expansion in the state as of now. Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner said last year that the tribe had “worked for two decades to secure a gaming compact with the state of Florida that provided a more stable future for the tribe … and allowed for significant sharing of gaming revenue with the state.”
Unfortunately, with Rick Scott as Governor of Florida, the deal may never actually come to the forefront. He has made it clear just how he feels about gambling expansion over the years. Scott stated that he will “take the time needed to negotiate the best arrangement for Florida” when it comes to the Seminole tribe’s future in Florida gambling.
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