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The Dash for Cash

February 3rd, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

It has been more than a year since Governor Charlie Crist signed a deal with the Seminole Tribe to allow full-blown slots, black jack and other Vegas-style games. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the competition for gambling dollars is heating up between Floridas horse and dog tracks and the Seminole Indian casinos.

Hear it Here: Pari-Mutuels Want Video Lottery

Seminole gambling continues in legal limbo after Floridas highest court said lawmakers have to approve. With that backdrop, the Seminole Tribe came to the Capitol making promises: 288 million in cash now, and up to 45 thousand jobs.

But theres an additional 8,877 non-direct employees, HardRock Casino CEO James Allen said.

The proposed Seminole deal has every other gambling interest coming to lawmakers with their hands out.

What all of the other gambling interests in the state are complaining about, is that percentage-wise, the Indians are giving up a whole lot less.

South Florida tracks with slots say the Indians are paying about 7 percent of the take, while theyre taking it on the chin.

Ive seen numbers as high as, when you add everything in, up to 62 percent of the money that they make, goes right back to the state government. Thats a lot of money, Rep. Evan Jenne (D-Broward County).

Not only do tracks want lower taxes, they want more options, and they too are making big promises.

We need to add an existing lottery-style product which is video lottery terminals to every pari-mutuel facility, said Jack Cory with the Greyhound Breeders Association. Doing that, we can bring in over a billion dollars a year of new revenue to the state of Florida for education.

The big threat from horse and dog tracks is that theyll lose more jobs than the Seminoles create if they dont get some help.

Without some accommodation for existing pari-mutuel facilities, it is becoming increasingly unlikely an Indian gaming pack will be approved.

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