Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist backs gambling deal; now it's up to Seminole Tribe

HIALEAH — Fresh from signing the Legislature's wide-ranging gambling expansion bill, Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday paid a visit to one of that bill's biggest beneficiaries — historic Hialeah Park.

Under the bill signed by Crist on Monday, Hialeah Park — which hasn't hosted a horse race since 2001 — will be allowed to offer live races again, while also opening a poker room.

"The goal is to restore Hialeah to the grandeur that it once was," track vice president John Brunetti Jr. said.

But Hialeah's comeback is not assured. Legislative language outlining the track's right to reopen as a slots casino is tucked into a larger bill that lays out the guidelines for a new gambling agreement between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state.

The tribe has yet to sign off on that agreement, and there have been rumblings that the Seminoles are unhappy with some portions of the Legislature's bill — portions that could increase the tribe's costs and competition.

The Legislature's version of the agreement would allow the tribe to offer blackjack and other table games at its two Hard Rock resorts, in Hollywood and Tampa, plus two other casinos in Broward. Three Seminole casinos elsewhere in the state could offer slots, but no table games.

In return, the tribe would pay the state at least $150 million a year.

Crist is expected to immediately begin negotiations with the tribe, despite initial claims by Seminole attorney Barry Richard that the deal was a non-starter because it would require the tribe to continue payments to the state even if the Legislature or voters approved similar games for tracks outside South Florida.

Crist said Monday that he was optimistic' about reaching a deal with the tribe by the Legislature's Aug. 31 deadline. The tribe declined to comment on the issue. If Crist and the tribe come to terms, the compact agreement would return to the Legislature for a final vote.

Besides Hialeah, other parimutuel facilities across the state also have a lot at stake in the governor's negotiations with the Seminole Tribe. The Legislature's now-signed gambling bill includes a 15 percent tax reduction for Miami-Dade and Broward parimutuels that offer slots. Three such "racinos" currently operate in Broward, and two are under construction in Miami-Dade.

All parimutuels, whether they have slots or not, are allowed to add higher-stakes poker games under the Legislature's bill.

But in order for the parimutuel tax break and higher poker limits to take effect, the Seminoles and the state must reach a deal.

Crist backs gambling deal; now it's up to Seminole Tribe 06/15/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 15, 2009 11:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Forecast: Hot, humid and mostly dry conditions prevail for St. Pete Pride weekend


    The threat of any lingering effects from Tropical Storm Cindy have passed, leaving behind a relatively dry — but hot and humid — St. Pete Pride weekend.

    Tampa Bay's 7-day forecast [WTSP]
  2. Florida Insiders: The state parties are dying; 'I heard someone long for the leadership of Jim Greer'


    For all the attention on Florida Democratic Chairman Stephen Bittel's bone headed gaffe this week, the diminished state of the once mighty Florida GOP today compared to even a few years ago is arguably more striking than the condition of the long-suffering Florida Democratic Party. A decade ago, no one would have …

    Florida Insider Poll
  3. Florida Democrats surging with grassroots enthusiasm, but 2018 reality is grim

    State Roundup

    After Donald Trump's election, so many people started showing up at monthly Pinellas County Democratic Party meetings, the group had to start forking out more money for a bigger room.

    Former Vice President Joe Biden addresses Florida Democrats at the Leadership Blue Gala on June 17 in Hollywood, Fla. (Photo by Carol Porter)
  4. Will new laws protect condo owners from apartment conversions and rogue associations?

    Real Estate

    Danny Di Nicolantonio has lived in St. Petersburg's Calais Village Condominums for 33 years. Annoyed at times by the actions, or inaction, of the condo board and property managers, he has complained to the state agency that is supposed to investigate.

    That has left him even more annoyed.

    A bill passed by the Florida Legislature would affect places like The Slade in Tampa's Channelside district, where cCondominium owners have battled a plan to convert homes into apartments.
[Times file photo]
  5. Walmart opens first Pinellas County in-house training academy


    Seminole — It had all the hallmarks of a typical graduation: robe-clad graduates marching in to Pomp and Circumstance, friends and family packed together under a sweltering tent and a lineup of speakers encouraging the graduates to take charge of their future.

    New Walmart Academy graduates are congratulated Thursday morning by associates during a graduation ceremony at the Walmart store, 10237 Bay Pines Boulevard, St. Petersburg. The Walmart location is one of the company's training academies where managers complete a one week retail course. David Shultz and Richard Sheehan, both from St. Petersburg, get high fives from the crowd.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]