House and Senate Need to Approve Any Gaming Compact Between Seminole Tribe and State of Florida
On September 10th, 2007, as Gov. Charlie Crist finalizes a deal with the Seminole Tribe, both the leaders of the House and Senate announced that any agreement between the two sides has to be approved by the legislators. But lawyer Barry Richards said that the approval of the legislature is not necessarily needed.
Unless there is a clause in the gambling compact that would require the approval of the legislature, like allotting a portion of the gambling profits for education, the talks are a private matter between the tribe, Gov. Crist and the federal government.
House Speaker Marco Rubio and house Republican leaders stated in a letter to Gov. Crist that they are against any kind of deal that will allow the Seminole Tribe to feature blackjack or craps.
Because Florida allowed Las Vegas type slot machines at the jai-alai frontons and dog and horse racing tracks, the Seminole Tribe believe that they should be allowed to offer additional casino table games at their casino facilities in South Florida, the Everglades and Tampa.
The tribe said that since slot machines are considered to be a Class III type gaming, they should be given permission to offer other types of Class III gaming like blackjack, roulette and craps.
Barry Richards said that the Seminole Tribe has agreed not too pursue craps and roulette but still wants blackjack and other casino games. He added that the governor has agreed on all the important parts of the agreement and are working on the language of the agreement.
The gaming compact could be finished sooner than expected. The gambling agreement could give the state $50 million and more than $100 million annually, depending on what casino games will be allowed by the state.
While House Speaker Marco Rubio is against any gaming compact that would allow any type of game other than slot machines, Senate President Ken Pruitt would not declare his side on the issue other than that the Senate will agree to any final compact between the Seminole Tribe and the state of Florida.
When asked about the position of Rubio in the gaming compact issue, Gov. Crist said that he will take Rubio's views into consideration because he is a good friend.
David M. Bedingfield