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Budget Gamble, Gambling Money Earmarked for Budget

February 1st, 2008 by flanews

Governor Charlie Crist’s budget recommendations rely on funds from reserves, lotto enhancements, and the Seminole gaming compact. The state Supreme Court is still deciding if the compact is legal. As Whitney Ray tells us, some state leaders believe the governor is relying on money that’s in jeopardy.

Hear it here: Budget Gamble, Gambling Money Earmarked for Budget

To balance the budget Governor Charlie Crist is counting his chickens before they hatch. Floridians are already gambling on games made legal by the governor’s compact with the Seminole Tribe. There’s just one problem, the state Supreme Court hasn’t decided if the compact is legal.

“I have great confidence in our legal team and the basis on which we entered into those negotiations in good faith, so I remain confident,” said Crist a press conference, Wednesday.

Legislative leaders told the court the legislature should have the final say on any gambling deal. Five other states have filed lawsuits similar to the one heard by the Supreme Court this week. In each case the courts ruled in favor of the legislature. Still The Seminole Tribe’s Attorney, Barry Richard, said the governor’s doing the right thing.

“I think the prudent thing is for him to include it in his budget, and that’s what he did,” said Richard.

The tribe already paid 50 million dollars to the state. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the legislature and lawmakers vote against the compact, then Florida would have to give the money back to the tribe.

“The state not only loses the 50 million, which would have to be returned to the tribe, it loses 150 million next year, 100 million the following year, and then a guaranteed minimum 100 million every year there after,” said Richard.

No matter which branch of government prevails, the real winner is likely to be the Seminole Tribe. At the very least, they’re expected to be able to keep their Vegas style slot machines. It could be a while before the case is closed. Among the options open to the court, is to do nothing, which would send the case back to the legislature, which could then attempt to overturn the Indian compact.

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