Florida legislators are apparently closer to a negotiated gaming compact with the Seminole tribe. Regulation, timing and finance issues have been resolved but there is still the thorny question of expanding gambling beyond south Florida. The House is proposing that gambling machines should be allowed at the state’s 19 horse tracks, jai alai frontons and dog tracks outside Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
The Seminole negotiators have said that if Class II gaming machines are allowed at the extra venues, a deal would be off. However, video bingo style electronic machines with smaller jackpots would be acceptable to the tribe. The Senate is pushing for Palm Beach County to operate slot machines at the Kennel Club. In the gaming compact previously agreed by the Seminoles and Governor Charlie Crist, but not ratified by legislators, the tribe would pay around US$150 million a year for five years in return for exclusivity of banked card games and Class III machines outside the Class III operations already allowed at the Broward and Miami-Dade pari-mutuels.
Negotiations continue over the number of video bingo machines that would be allowed. The tribe previously agreed to 300 per venue but the House is demanding 500 to 1,000 depending on the pari-mutuel. The Senate also is proposing a reduction in pari-mutuel slot machine tax from 50% to 35%, lowering their annual licence fee, granting them no-limit poker and extending their card room opening hours from 12 to 18 hours mid-week and 24 hours at weekends. (E-03.25.10)
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