Seminoles And Florida Lawmakers Again Battle Over Gambling Compact
Lawmakers in the state of Florida are on the verge of turning away Governor Charlie Crist's hard work for the second time when it comes to a Seminole Indian gambling compact. Lawmakers and the Seminoles are again battling over the tribe's casino gambling.
Governor Crist and negotiators from legislature spent the better part of the summer reworking a gambling compact between the state and the Seminoles. Governor Crist wanted a special session in October for lawmakers to review and vote on the compact. That did not happen.
The governor's latest request was for a special session in December. Again, that looks unrealistic with lawmakers trying to show the Seminoles who has control in the state. Instead of holding the special session, legislators are asking the national Indian Gaming Commission to shut down gambling at Seminole casinos in the state.
"Until the banked card games are shut down and the Tribe gives some indication that it is willing to abide by the law, and ultimately its agreements, it would appear the state would be ill-advised to enter into any compact with the Tribe," wrote House Speaker Larry Cretul, in a letter to NIGC Chairman George Skibine.
The latest move by the Florida lawmakers may end up in a game of Russian roulette between the state and the Seminoles. The Seminoles believe under current Florida law that they do not even need an agreement with the state to run blackjack, baccarat, and Vegas-style slots at their casinos.
The state contends that the games are against Florida law. The NIGC would give the final say. If they rule in favor of the state, the Seminoles would have to shut down the games. If the Seminoles, win, however, they could continue to offer the games and would be required to give the state no share of their revenue.
The Seminoles seem willing to bypass the federal battle and have compromised on several key issues. The state's negotiators have also compromised, which allowed for the most recent compact to be signed. It was not enough for lawmakers, however, who have already shown that this issue is a political one.
Back in December of 2007, Governor Crist signed the first compact with the Seminoles. The legislature decided they were not pleased that they were not part of the decision making process, and went to the Florida Supreme Court. The court ruled that Governor Crist did not have the authority to negotiate solely with the Seminoles.
This past year, negotiations again began between the state and the Seminoles. Another compact agreement was reached, but lawmakers now are showing that they never intended to approve an expanded gambling compact with the Seminoles.
"The latest developments show that the state is just playing games with the Seminoles," said Gaming Analyst Brad Dawkins, "One of these times they are going to push the Seminoles too far, and in the end, that may cost the state millions of dollars in revenue sharing."
October 22, 2009
Posted By Larry Rutherford
Staff Editor, CasinoGamblingWeb.com
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