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Florida & Seminoles Seal Deal (Almost)

April 6th, 2010 by Mike Vasilinda

After three years of trying and two failed compacts, the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe have a 5-year billion-dollar deal on casino gambling. As Mike Vasilinda tells us, the Tribe will get banked card games such as blackjack in five locations for 5 years, while the state considers other options.

In a complex deal, the Seminole Tribe gets to keep slot machines at all 7 reservations for the next twenty years. Nat sot.. But it only gets to deal blackjack at 5 locations for the next five years. The deal caps decades of negotiations and three years of serious talks that produced two failed compacts. Tribal Chairman Billy Cypress found humor in the end product.

“I see why Obama had a tough time passing his health bill; it’s similar to that for me,” Cypress said.

Florida gets to keep the 400 million-plus it has already put in the bank and then it will get a billion more over the next 5 years.

“It is my hope that these much needed funds will find their way to the classrooms,” Governor Charlie Crist said.

The compact also sets the stage for Florida to consider authorizing high-stakes casinos over the next five years.

“I think it’s a good deal for Florida, for 2010,” Sen. Dennis Jones said. “We’ll ride it out five years and see where it goes. Certainly we’ve been at an impasse for 20 years.”

“The tribal council is set to approve the deal on Wednesday morning; the Senate on Thursday. So this deal could be done by early next week.

The deal splits dog and horse tracks. South Florida facilities with slots, like it. But everyone else says it will hurt business.

“Without a product, an additional product, for our customers, it’s going to be hard to stay in business,” Richard Winning, with Derby Lane Dog Track, said.

Traditional parimutuels do get 300 yet-to-be-determined bingo-style machines, but nothing like the full slots they have wanted.

The deal helps lawmakers avoid some painful cuts in the state budget and brings the house and senate spending plans closer to resolution.

Posted in Business, Charlie Crist, Gambling, Legislature, State Budget, State News | 2 Comments »

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