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Gambling Deal Close

August 25th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

You can still play the slots or black jack at a Hard Rock Casino being
run by the Seminole Tribe, but until the state and the Tribe reach a
deal, the casino’s remain in legal limbo. State negotiators and he
Seminole Tribe have until next Monday to reach a gambling deal. As Mike
Vasilinda tells us, the deadline was spelled out in legislation passed.

It has been almost 2 years since Governor Charlie Crist cut a deal with
the Seminole Indians to operate full blown Vegas-style casinos in Florida.

The games have been up and running, but the deal is in limbo. State
lawmakers challenged the original deal and forced new negotiations. Now
both sides face an August 31st deadline to reach a deal.

At stake: 3 to 5 hundred million in payments to the state each year and
whether the tribe gets exclusive rights to slots outside of south Florida.

The negotiations were taking place in this law firm just a block from
the Capitol. We caught up with House Rules Chairman Bill Galvano on his
way in to observe.

“My presence here is simply to provide some feedback, see where they
are,” Galvano said.  “I think they’ll get something together within the time constraints
set forth in the conference report.”

As the clock ticks, Governor Charlie Crist says he’s optimistic.

“My Understanding is that it’s going pretty well,” Crist said. “No immediate update in
the past couple hours, but I’m encouraged.”

The sticking point has always been exclusivity. The Seminoles don’t
want anyone competing with them.

Under the law authorizing a new deal, the Tribe could reduce payments if
slots are authorized at dog or horse tracks outside South Florida.

If there’s no deal by the August 31st deadline, Attorney General Bill McCollum is expected to renew his request to federal authorities to shut the gambling operations down.

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