House won't give South Florida parimutuels lower tax rate
Signaling the political difficulties of giving a tax break to gambling companies in the midst of a fiscal crisis, Rep. Bill Galvano said Friday the House will not be lowering the 50 percent tax rate on the operation of slot machines at the parimutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Instead, the chairman of the House oversight committee on the gambling compact said the House is open to giving them tax credits and alternatives that will level the playing field for them against the Seminole Tribe and its casinos.
"It’s not our position to go out and just lower the tax,'' Galvano told the Herald/Times. "But there are changes in definitions we can do relating to investment income and other things that will encourage them to invest in the economy so that effectively it becomes easier to compete.''
Meanwhile, Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, said the House will continue to pursue legislation that allows the governor to negotiate a slots-only compact with the tribe, abandoning all options of allowing them to keep the black jack and banked card games they had hoped to keep after their existing compact was invalidated by the court. "I’ve not encounted any colleague on the house side who will want to keep card games,'' he said.
The House committee, which this week was granted the power to write its own committee bill, will likely produce legislation that includes the following elements, he said:
* No change in tax rate for the parimutuels that compete with the tribe, but there will be alternatives to help them keep more of their money as long as it is intended to create jobs
* The tribe will continue to be the only casinos outside of Miami-Dade and Broward and that exclusivity will allow the state to get revenue sharing cash in return. "That's a competitive advantage and there’s value in that and it depends on how much value they think,'' Galvano said.
* The governor will have the authority to renegotiate a new compact but the legislature will be required this time to have a seat at the negotiating table.