Florida Senate Improves Gaming Ante For Seminole Tribe
A respected Senator sweetened the ante on Seminole Indian tribe gambling as he launched a pair of bills on March 24th, 2009 that will give the Seminoles and pari-mutuels in Florida more gaming options while scaling down the existing tax rate on non-Indian gaming facilities around the state. Florida would receive the enormous benefits to the gaming payout backers say could reach as much as $1 billion every year. The Senate Regulated Industries Committee will meet on Wednesday to examine the gaming proposal authored by Senator Dennis Jones.
Senator Jones is the chief of the committee. The Senate's respected budget official said that the Senate will factor in tribal gaming money into its yearly budget proposal, which greatly improves the opportunity that some form of compact will be approved by the legislature. The Chief of the Senate Policy on Ways and Means, Sen. JD Alexander stated that he is not really in favor of gaming expansion but they have to do something to fix the budget. But the question is whether the House of Representatives is willing to cooperate or not.
Governor Charlie Crist and the Seminole Indian Tribe finalized a gambling compact with the tribe in December 2007. But the state Supreme Court nullified the agreement, saying that Governor Crist overstepped his boundaries.
The House version of the new gaming compact states that the Indian tribe will only be allowed to offer slot machines in exchange for $100 million payment every year and does not permit gaming expansion beyond the Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Under the gaming plan of the Senate, the Seminoles could improve their gaming offering by adding craps and roulette at their seven casinos like in Immokalee.
The tribe will be required to pay the state $400 million yearly. Pari-mutuels will have their taxes cut off from 50 percent to 35% while being allowed to offer slot machines and blackjack.