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Florida Begins To Mull Gambling Future Of Seminole Compact

The state of Florida has had a rocky relationship with the gambling industry and the Seminole Indians. The tribe secured a compact with former Governor Charlie Crist back in 2010. The compact was for a period of five years, and gave the Seminoles exclusivity over games such as blackjack and baccarat.

in the four years since the compact was signed, much has changed within the gaming industry throughout the US. Dozens of states have went to full scale casino resorts in an effort to drum up revenue, and Florida lawmakers are now considering opening up their borders to some of the biggest names in the industry.

In recent years, legislators have listened to proposals from Genting, Las Vegas Sands, and Wynn resorts involving bringing Vegas-style gambling to the Sunshine State. Never, however, were any of the proposals taken seriously with the compact in place with the Seminoles.

The legislative session beginning in March figures to be a different story. Lawmakers are now only one year away from the expiration date of the Seminole compact, and they have much more freedom to change the current landscape of the gaming industry. One of the tasks for lawmakers this session will be to decide whether to continue beyond 2015 with the compact signed with the Seminoles, or to allow other companies into the lucrative market.

Florida is considered to be a major target for gaming companies, with millions of retirees calling Florida home, while the state also offers a hip audience down in South Beach, where Genting has purchased the former Miami Herald building.

Lawmakers have not yet said what their plans are with expansion or the Seminole compact, and Governor Rick Scott has not tipped his hand either.

"With the gaming compact set to expire in 2015, we will take the time needed to negotiate the best arrangement for Florida," said Meliisa Sellers, communication director for the governor.

The Seminoles, for their part, have been happy with the compact, and have indicated a willingness to extend the deal beyond the 2015 expiration date.

"The tribe wants to maintain that steady, stable course through 2015 and beyond," said Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner.

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