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Senate: “We Can Negotiate Our Own Gambling Compact”

December 11th, 2007 by flanews

Both House and Senate leaders believe the legislature should have the power to sign off on any gambling deal. And as Chris Casquejo tells us, for the first time, the public had its say before lawmakers.

Here it here: Senate: We Can Negotiate Our Own Gambling Compact

Under a 25-year agreement signed with the state, the Seminole tribe can have slots and table games at 7 Indian casinos, but not roulette or craps. Brian Pitts was the only non-politician to speak out on gambling before lawmakers. He came all the way from St. Petersburg.

People end up getting into debt,” Pitts said. “People start getting themselves in trouble. People start stealing.

The Senates legal counsel told lawmakers that if the Florida Supreme Court rules against the governor, the legislature can start over and negotiate its own compact with the Seminole tribe.

The Supreme Court will begin hearing oral arguments at the end of next month. The timing concerns some lawmakers.

Republican Dennis Jones heads the Senate committee that regulates gambling in the state.

Its suspicious that the Court picked January 30th, the day after the January 29th vote,” said Jones. “But time will tell on that issue, whether that vote influences what they might present to us.

The incoming Senate President agrees that lawmakers should ratify any agreement.

Were simply asking the courts to say, is this an issue of the separation of powers?” asked Sen. Jeff Atwater, from North Palm Beach. “And should it be the role of the legislature to enter into that relationship?

Although the governor signed a compact with the tribe, the deal is not official until the federal government approves.

If lawmakers ever approve an expansion of gambling in Florida, the state gets nothing from the tribe.

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