Agreement close on gambling deal; Palm Beach slots a sticking point
The House awaits a response from the Seminoles on the last, and most contentious, issue left in gambling negotiations on a compact, Rep. Bill Galvano, the House's chief negotiator, said Wednesday.
While a conceptual agreement has been reached, he said, the definition of what will constitute exclusivity for the tribe remains to be determined.
"We've been through regulation; we've been through timing; we've been through finance -- all that stuff,'' he said. Now, they await word on whether the tribe will agree to the House's language that would allow the parimutuels outside Miami Dade and Broward to install electronic machines based on video bingo technology and featuring historic racing games.
While the House has been the lead negotiator, the Senate is engaged, and the priority for Senate leaders, the sources say: bringing slot machines to Palm Beach County. They want a carve out that allows county voters to approve future games without undermining the revenue sharing provisions of the compact.
The tribe had agreed to allow 300 video bingo and historic racing machines at each of the state's horse and dog track and jai alai frontons, as long as they were required to operate with some time lag between the games -- a feature not offered by the existing machines. The House countered, allowing each parimutuel either 500 machines that operate like the machines now available at racetracks in Arkansas, or 1,000 machines made specially to fit the Seminoles' definition.
"Whether they get authorized is a separate issue,'' Galvano said. The House, however, is "not teed up to authorize games" while the Senate is willing to authorize them.
The agreement the Seminoles signed with the governor in August would have allowed historic racing machines "that aren't even made,'' Galvano said, but rejected the ones modeled after the Las Vegas-style slot machines. "We're saying let's define what can constitute these machines in terms of what is actually out there, and let's do it with a number that is reasonable for a parimutuel to want to invest."