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Lawmakers Approve Seminole Gaming Compact

May 8th, 2009 by flanews

Its been almost a year since the Florida Supreme Court voided the original Seminole Gaming Compact saying it lacked legislative approval. Friday lawmakers gave their approval. As Whitney Ray tells us, now the question is, will the tribe accept the new deal.

Card games and Vegas-style slots got legislative approval almost a year after the Supreme Court struck them down. The new Seminole Gaming Compact gives the Indian tribe Blackjack at its Broward and Tampa casinos but not at thee southwest Florida resorts.

This bill has not been about blowing up and expanding gaming to every corner of the state of Florida, said Representative Esteban Bovo.

The House moved from its no-new-gaming position to reach a comprise with the Senate.

I dont think that the fact that we are extending blackjack in the Indian facilities is making House members particularly happy. We would prefer not to have that in the bill, said Representative David Rivera.

The selling point for the House was money. The state will receive 300 million during the first year of the compact, and at least 150 million each following year. All the money from the compact will be put into a trust fund for education.

The new compact includes the states parimutuels. Lobbyist Ron Book fought for the changes.

It lowers the tax rate, it opens up the poker limits in parimutuel establishments. It ups the hours, said Book.

And with the parimutuels, the legislature, and the governor happy with the agreement, all eyes are on the Seminoles to see if theyll call or try to raise the bet.

The Governor and the Seminole Tribe will still need to work out the details of the compact. After the bill passed the tribe released a statement praising the legislature but reminding everyone there is still more work to be done.

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