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Jeff Vasilinda becomes the Vasilinda Family’s first published author!

Senate Ratifies Gaming Compact

May 18th, 2021 by Mike Vasilinda

With little debate, the Florida Senate approved a massive 30-year gaming deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida Tuesday.

House approval is expected Wednesday, and lawmakers appear ready to roll the dice even though the threat of lawsuits is looming large.

The Senate debate focused not on big changes like new games, which the compact contains.

“Craps, roulette, and sports betting,” said Senate sponsor Travis Hutson.

Instead, the biggest debate was over an arbitrary prohibition of any new casino within 165 miles of the Tribe’s Hollywood Hard Rock.

The Fontainebleau and Trump’s Doral Resort are at 15.2 miles away.

“And I think it’s specific and intended to enure to the benefit of one particular party,” said State Senator Jason Pizzo.

In the end, the Governor got criticized for not getting a bigger share of the profits, but even that didn’t result in a no vote.

“Good deal or bad deal, it is the deal we have on the table, and I can’t in good conscious turn down the money,” said State Senator Annette Taddeo.

St. Petersburg State Senator Jeff Brandes was the only no vote.

“Here were are taking an entire segment of the economy and we’re basically saying the Tribe has a monopoly,” said Brandes.

The gambling deal brought the biggest crowd to the State Capitol since the beginning of the pandemic.

More than a hundred protestors were bused in by religious conservatives and No Casinos Inc.

Organizer John Sowinski called the expansion unconstitutional.

“It’s voters, not policy makers in Tallahassee that have the power to expand gambling in our state,” said Sowinski.

While the compact will like win approval Wednesday, Federal approval is also required.

Then a host of lawsuits are all but certain.

The Tribe has guarantees the state $500 million a year for the next five years and estimates in the Senate Tuesday were that Florida would receive between 20 and 30 billion over the 30 year compact.

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