Make us your home page
Instagram

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 [email protected]

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

Loading...
  1. Carrollwood fitness center employs scientific protocol to help clients

    Business

    In 2005, Al Roach and Virginia Phillips, husband and wife, opened 20 Minutes to Fitness in Lakewood Ranch, and last month they opened the doors to their new location in Carrollwood.

    Preston Fisher, a personal fitness coach at 20 Minutes To Fitness, stands with an iPad while general manager/owner Angela Begin conducts an equipment demonstration. The iPad is used to track each client's information and progress. I also included one shot of just the equipment. The center recently opened in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  2. Olive Tree branches out to Wesley Chapel

    Business

    WESLEY CHAPEL — When it came time to open a second location of The Olive Tree, owners John and Donna Woelfel, decided that Wesley Chapel was the perfect place.

    The Olive Tree expands its offerings of "ultra premium?€ extra virgin olive oils (EVOO) to a second location in Wesley Chapel. Photo by Danielle Hauser.
  3. Massachusetts firm buys Tampa's Element apartment tower

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Downtown Tampa's Element apartment tower sold this week to a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company that plans to upgrade the skyscraper's amenities and operate it long-term as a rental community.

    The Element apartment high-rise at 808 N Franklin St. in downtown Tampa has been sold to a Northland Investment Corp., a Massachusetts-based real estate investment company. JIM DAMASKE  |  Times
  4. New York town approves Legoland proposal

    News

    GOSHEN, N.Y. — New York is one step closer to a Lego dreamland. Goshen, a small town about fifty miles northwest of the Big Apple, has approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park.

    A small New York town, Goshen approved the site plan for a $500 million Legoland amusement park. Legoland Florida is in Winter Haven. [Times file  photo]
  5. Jordan Park to get $20 million makeover and new senior housing

    Real Estate

    By WAVENEY ANN MOORE

    Times Staff Writer

    ST. PETERSBURG —The St. Petersburg Housing Authority, which bought back the troubled Jordan Park public housing complex this year, plans to spend about $20 million to improve the 237-unit property and construct a new three-story building for …

    Jordan Park, the historic public housing complex, is back in the hands of the St. Petersburg Housing Authority. The agency is working to improve the 237-unit complex. But the latest plan to build a new three-story building for seniors will mean 31 families have to find new homes. [LARA CERRI   |   Tampa Bay Times]