Blackjack for taxesby Dara Kam | August 23rd, 2007
Roulette and blackjack are fine for Florida if the state can reap some of the benefits, Gov. Charlie Crist said Thursday.
Crist spoke about negotiations with the Florida Seminole Indians that his predecessor Jeb Bush stalled for years.
Because voters approved Las Vegas-style slot machines in Broward County pari-mutuels, tribal leaders believe they are entitled to the same or even more types of gambling.
If the state fails to seal a deal with the Seminoles, millions of dollars in revenues from their expanded gambling venture could be lost, which Crist said could be used to avoid raising taxes.
Under federal law, tribes are allowed to conduct on their sovereign lands whatever gambling is conducted elsewhere in the state. In this case, slots come under “Class III” gaming, which includes table games like blackjack and roulette that were not approved by Florida voters in the Broward facilities.
“I would encourage those who have a reluctance to not support it. And I would encourage those who would rather have revenues not generated by increased taxes to support it,” he said when asked by reporters about the talks.
Even if Crist’s office reaches a deal with the Seminoles, questions remain about whether the legislature needs to sign off on it.
Crist said Thursday he would “probably” ask the legislature to approve the contract but said his lawyers were split on whether he is required to do so.
“I’ve gotten mixed interpretations, which is not surprising for lawyers. My opinion is that we ought to get their approval. I don’t know if it’s legally required, but I like to partner with the legislature,” said Crist, who previously served in the Florida Senate.