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Gaming Deal Moving in the House, Senate

April 8th, 2010 by flanews

A deal to allow the Seminole Indian Tribe to keep blackjack and Vegas-style slots at most of its Florida casinos is upsetting owners of other gaming businesses. The parimutuels say the deal gives the tribe an unfair advantage and as Whitney Ray tells us, it could lead to thousands of layoffs.

The Seminole deal to secure 400 million dollars for the depleted state budget and a billion over five years is two steps closer to reality. A House committee passed the gaming deal through Thursday morning, and the Senate gave it tentative approval around noon.

If approved the tribe could keep blackjack at five of its casinos and Vegas-Style slots at all seven.

Dog and horse track owners are afraid the deal will take away from their business. The Associated Industries of Florida is lobbying for a level playing field on behalf of its parimutuel clients.

ďThis deal that has been cut with the Seminoles is not enough money and itís not going to give enough games to the parimutuel industry for them to survive,Ē said AIF President Barney Bishop.

While the parimutuels fight for a piece of the pie religious groups want to see the whole compact defeated. Bill Bunkley with the Florida Baptist Convention says the deal will cost the state more in the long run for social programs and criminal justice.

ďFor every dollar the state takes in, we understand from credible studies, the state will pay out three dollars in social benefits, thatís why I say itís a losing bet,Ē said Bunkley.

But with a 3 billion dollar budget gap, itís a gamble lawmakers are apparently willing to take it. A final vote on the compact is likely to come early next week.

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