Make us your home page

Legislature, Seminoles closer to a deal on state gambling regulations

TALLAHASSEE — Legislators are closer than ever to resolving their differences over a gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe and injecting $450 million into the state budget, the lead House negotiator said Wednesday.

But one big issue still divides them: how far to expand gambling outside of South Florida.

"We've been through regulation; we've been through timing; we've been through finance, all that stuff," said Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who has led the yearlong effort to negotiate an agreement with the tribe and legislative leaders.

Now, he said, negotiators await word whether the tribe will agree to the House's proposal to allow the 19 horse tracks, dog tracks and jai alai frontons outside Miami-Dade and Broward counties to install gambling machines.

If legislators allow the tracks and frontons outside of South Florida to install electronic machines that qualify as Class II slot machines, it's a deal breaker, the tribe's negotiators say.

But if the agreement doesn't include some expansion of the state's existing gambling industry, the Senate won't buy in.

Although the plan is still "conceptual," Galvano said, the tribe has agreed to something of a compromise: a provision that would allow parimutuels to have a type of electronic machine based on video bingo technology and featuring historic racing games. The games look much like slot machines but aren't as lucrative and produce smaller jackpots.

Senate leaders are continuing to push for a special exemption for Palm Beach County that would allow for the Palm Beach Kennel Club, if voters approve, to operate slot machines. The lawmakers want the tribe to accept the Palm Beach exemption without jeopardizing annual payments that the tribe would make to the state under the gambling agreement.

Under the agreement reached so far, the tribe would pay the state about $150 million a year for five years in exchange for the exclusive operation of Las Vegas- style slot machines at its seven casinos, Galvano said. The tribe also would have the exclusive right to run table games at four casinos in Broward, Hillsborough and Collier counties for five years.

If the Legislature allows horse tracks and other parimutuels to operate blackjack and table games, the tribe's payments to the state would be reduced but continue for slot machines only, for the next 20 years. Even those payments would end if the state approved casino-style video lottery terminals or other casino games outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, creating competition.

During the negotiations, the tribe initially agreed to 300 video bingo and historic race machines at each of the state's horse and dog track and jai alai frontons north of Broward, as long as the games don't operate like slot machines, Galvano said.

The House countered with 500 to 1,000 machines per parimutuel, depending on the kind of machine, and is awaiting word on that offer, he said.

Also on Wednesday, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee passed its gaming bill (SB 622) on a 6-1 vote. It would nullify both the August 2009 compact and the September 2007 compacts with the Seminole Tribe. It also would reduce the tax rate for parimutuel slot machines from 50 percent to 35 percent, lower their annual license fee, give parimutuels no-limit poker, allow racing at the Hialeah race track and extend the hours for card rooms from 12 hours to 18 hours a day Monday through Friday and 24 hours a day on weekends.

"We have most of the issues resolved right now between the House, the Senate and the Indians," said Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island, chairman of the Senate committee. He predicted an agreement in two weeks.

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at

Legislature, Seminoles closer to a deal on state gambling regulations 03/24/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 10:12pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  2. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  3. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.
  4. 'Garbage juice' seen as threat to drinking water in Florida Panhandle county


    To Waste Management, the nation's largest handler of garbage, the liquid that winds up at the bottom of a landfill is called "leachate," and it can safely be disposed of in a well that's 4,200 feet deep.

    Three samples that were displayed by Jackson County NAACP President Ronstance Pittman at a public meeting on Waste Management's deep well injection proposal. The sample on the left is full of leachate from the Jackson County landfill, the stuff that would be injected into the well. The sample on the right shows leachate after it's been treated at a wastewater treatment plant. The one in the middle is tap water.
  5. Honda denies covering up dangers of Takata air bags


    With just a third of the defective Takata air bag inflators replaced nationwide, the corporate blame game of who will take responsibility — and pay — for the issue has shifted into another gear.

    Honda is denying covering up dangers of Takata air bags. | [Scott McIntyre, New York Times]