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Seminoles Urge Florida Legislature to Approve Compact

On February 2nd, 2009, the Seminole Tribe of Florida came to the capital and made an offer Florida legislators may find hard to resist. The tribe promised to make forty-five thousand jobs, give billions of dollars to Florida's economy and hand the state a check for $288 million to add to the state budget. But the catch is that the legislature would have to approve the gaming compact finalized between the Seminole Indian Tribe and Governor Charlie Crist that has been cancelled by the Florida Supreme Court and which the Republicans in the Florida House would like to modify.

Representative Bill Galvano, the acting chairman of the House Select Committee on Seminole Indian Compact review said that he personally believes that this is a brand new negotiation and they have to study on what is being presented by the tribe as a new offer. The gaming compact that Governor Charlie Crist with the Seminole Indian Tribe in November 2007 allowed the Seminole tribe to exclusively operate the games of baccarat and blackjack in the state of Florida and block competition by not allowing the expansion of casino facilities.

In return, the Seminole Indian Tribe would pay the state $100 million annually and as much as $500 million in the near future. But Galvano said that he and other House Republicans wonder whether making a better agreement is possible. Legislators also do not like the idea that the Seminole Indian Tribe will have a monopoly on the card games while the Florida pari-mutuels will not be allowed to offer the games. The lawyer for the tribe, Barry Richard said that he thinks that the position of the legislators is a personal insult to the governor.

The legislators are implying the Governor did not know what he was doing or that he did not have the best interests of Florida at heart. Richard urged the state legislators to sign the agreement now and change their minds later on. He added that the money will help solve the $3.5 billion budget deficit of the state.

Jim Allen, the CEO of Seminole Gaming, told the house committee that their long-range plans include vital expansions that will result in a total of forty-five thousand jobs including the constructing of a hotel in Hollywood and expanded hotel developments in Tampa, Immokalee and Coconut Creek casinos.


Monday, March 09, 2009
Kate Foster

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