Tribe offers cash on the table and jobs to gamble
The Seminole Tribe of Florida has arrived at the House Select Committee on Seminole Indian Compact Review with some money on the table and a promise: The $288 million being set aside in escrow in payments to the state is immediately available on June 30 with the simple swipe of the pen -- meaning legislative approval of the gambling compact. No other strings attached.
The state gets the money no matter what it decides to do with gambling this year, said Barry Richard, lawyer for the tribe. According to the compact that was voided by the Florida Supreme Court in July which lawmakers must approve, an exclusivity provision requires that if there are any new games approved or offered by the state, the tribe ceases payments to the state.
If lawmakers allow for horse and dog tracks to expand gambling next year, they'll get the money this year but forfeit it in the future, Richard said. "The Legislature is not bound to anything,he said. "If they ratify this compact (this year) they get the money."
Meanwhile, acting House Speaker Larry Cretul announced that he will no longer be chairing the oversight committee but turned over the chair to vice chairman Bill Galvano of Bradenton. What does the new speaker think about the No. 1 issue for the horse, dog and jai alai industry -- lowering the 50 percent tax rate to allow them to better compete with the tribe? "I'm not on the committee anymore,'' Cretul said. "I'm going to let the committee do their work."