Gaming interests donate to Scott after compact deal reached
Three days after Gov. Rick Scott signed a new gambling agreement earlier this month, a company that is a division of a Malaysian casino conglomerate that could benefit from the deal wrote Scott one of the biggest donation checks it has written all year to any political player in Florida.
Scott’s Let’s Get To Work political committee reported receiving a $20,000 check from Resorts World Miami - a part of The Genting Group - on Dec. 10. On December 7, Scott announced he signed a new gaming deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would give the tribe exclusive rights to operate blackjack and add craps and roulette. But the deal also opens the door to expanded gaming, especially in South Florida where the Genting Group has said it wants to build a casino resort on Biscayne Bay on the former site of the Miami Herald building.
Under the new compact, the Seminole Tribe would continue to make payments to the state even in the face of increased competition from a new Miami or Broward slots casino.
The compact still must be approved by the Florida Legislature before it can go into effect. It has already received a lukewarm reception from some lawmakers who have predicted the deal will get a tough review when the Legislature meets in January.
Resorts World Miami has given over $120,000 in donations to political players in Florida this year, but the $20,000 donation is the single largest check since the company wrote the Republican Party of Florida a $50,000 check on March 3.
Resorts World Miami is hardly the only company who has made donations to political players in Florida as the negotiations over the compact have intensified. Over the past three years, the Seminole Tribe has given more than $2.7 million to more than 90 politicians, a dozen political committees lawmakers control and the two major parties. Scott’s Let’s Get to Work committee collected $500,000 of that.
Other gambling-related businesses in Florida, including slot machine operators in South Florida, are also donating to various campaigns and committees. Fronton Holdings LLC, the Racing Corporation of West Virginia and the Palm Beach Kennel Club have all given more than $120,000 each to political committees in Florida in 2015, state campaign finance records show.
The donations to Scott from Resorts World Miami have helped him raise almost $100,000 just through the first half of December for his Let’s Get To Work Committee. That committee has raised more than $640,000 since October 1 and more than $4 million heading since the start of the year.
What Scott is raising the money for is still unclear. Scott cannot seek re-election because of term limits. He’s been mentioned as a possible 2018 U.S. Senate candidate, but has refused to comment directly on running for the seat.