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Heidi Specter April 8, 2019 3 min read
Florida’s Lawmakers and Tribes Reportedly Iron Out Differences
- Florida needs to renew a gambling compact for Seminole within a month
- The state is preparing to lose $350 million in profit annually
- Politicians and the tribe may have finally come to terms
Florida lawmakers and the Seminole Tribe Florida have long been at daggers drawn over a gambling compact rule that expired back in 2014. Now, a solution may be on the cards.
Seminole and Florida Lawmakers Sit Down to Discuss Gambling
Florida hasn’t been a gambling haven per se, but the relationship between lawmakers and operators has been an ongoing one. Both camps have been vociferous critics of any inroads made by private businesses and as a result, Florida remains a rather gambling-free area, that is if you count out the tribe-owned properties.
For a few years now, the compact governing the existence of tribal casinos has been missing one key provision which had expired and was never renewed later on. That has been the cause of some bad blood between the tribes and gambling-averse lawmakers.
Now, a breakthrough may have come to pass with the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reporting that the two sides have sat down to discuss a new compact that will not only patch up any oversights of the past, but will also allow the Seminole Tribe to expand moving forward.
You Scratch My Back, I Scratch Yours – Revenue Sharing
If the Seminole Tribe has been successful as the state’s de facto leading gambling operator that is owing to the generous revenue sharing agreement that they have been able to negotiate with the state of Florida.
Back in 2010, the state and the tribe agreed to help each other. Florida granted Seminole an opportunity to push on with gambling operations and restrict such activities to the tribe’s venue in exchange for a chunk of the profits, which Seminole was more than happy to divvy up.
Then came 2015 and the compact wasn’t renewed which irked the tribes, but Florida’s former Governor, Rick Scott, managed to sit down the Seminole tribe and convince them to adhere to the revenue sharing program.
Even without a formal agreement, Mr. Scott argued, the state of Florida would continue to honor the compact. He has been right, but occasional flare-ups between representatives of the legislature and the Seminole tribe have occurred.
What Did Scott Negotiate?
Governor Scott did of course formalize the agreement very loosely. According to the ad-hoc 2015 negotiation, though, a new gambling compact must be established in 2019, something that hasn’t been very likely to happen.
With one month to go in the Scott’s agreement, this can mean only one thing – the state is about to lose $350 million a year should lawmakers fumble the initiative. Florida’s Senate has already excluded the tribes’ contributions from the budget as a contingency for the year.
Seminole isn’t without fault in the current predicament. In 2016, the tribe sued Florida, because the state had allowed blackjack to be conducted on properties different than Seminole’s. This was one of the main turning points of the relationship between the state and the tribes.
With the time ticking away conveniently, nobody is all too sure what the future of Florida’s gambling revenue and Seminole’s own operations is.