Florida Governor Rick Scott was close to renewing a compact with the Seminaole Tribe of Florida but ran out of time before the end of the legislative session in May. The portion of the 2009 compact giving the tribe exclusive rights to table games at seven of its casinos will expire in July 2015, causing the state to lose about 6 million annually, according to new estimates from state economists.
Scott and the Seminoles are said to have agreed on a seven-year deal that would have added roulette and craps to its South Florida casinos and allowed it to build a casino in Fort Pierce. The agreement also may have explicitly banned Las Vegas-style destination casinos. But observers said the deal broke down over how much the state should be given by the Seminoles for that exclusivity.
Under the current compact, the Seminoles agreed to pay a minimum of $1 billion over five years in exchange for exclusive rights to table games. The tribe can stop the payments if slot machines exist anywhere outside Broward and Miami-Dade counties, excluding those operated by other tribes. The Seminoles also can reduce payments if the South Florida parimutuels are allowed to have banked card games or if slots are authorized at any facilities that weren’t already operating in Broward or Miami-Dade, except for Hialeah Race Track, when the deal was signed.
Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner said, “They’re hopeful to renew the table games provision and come up with a program that’s best for the state.”
State Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano played a major role in crafting the compact five years ago, and is expected to take a lead in the next legislative session.