Representatives of the Seminole Tribe of Florida met in Tallahassee last month to try to hammer out a gaming compact
before the legislature-mandated August 31 deadline.
Lead negotiator George Lemieux, former chief of staff for Governor Charlie Crist, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that the two sides are “narrowing down the issues” in hopes of making a deal on time. But the revised compact will not strictly conform to terms endorsed by the legislature back in May. That means lawmakers might have to convene a special session to decide whether to accept the new terms.
According to the Sun Sentinel, one change will be to the so-called “exclusivity” part of the compact, which ensures that the Seminoles are the only ones who can offer blackjack and slots outside South Florida. The legislature would require the tribe to make payments to the state even if competitors get similar games, as long as the tribe’s revenue didn’t experience a major drop. Not surprisingly, that idea held little allure for the tribe.
“Exclusivity is certainly one of the issues we’re talking about,” Lemiuex
told the newspaper. “The federal law requires it.”
Tribal lawyer Barry Richard has said that without exclusivity, there is no reason for the tribe to cooperate. In that case, the Seminoles could conceivably run their operations without paying a dime to the state. As it stands, the legislature has asked for $150 million a year from the tribe, 50 percent more than they agreed to in an aborted 2007 deal with Crist. The original compact was later nullified by the state Supreme Court, which ruled that the pro-gaming governor had no authority to make the deal without legislative approval.
The legislature’s proposal also requires the tribe to shut down blackjack tables at its Naples casino. The Seminoles would get to keep blackjack at their casinos in Broward County and Tampa.