No deal on blackjackby Dara Kam | May 5th, 2009
After three meetings today, House and Senate leaders remain sharply divided over a gambling proposal.
Appearances by Gov. Charlie Crist and Lt. Gov Jeff Kottkamp, who showed up twice, did little or nothing to bring the two sides closer together on whether the Seminoles should be allowed to offer blackjack and slots at their Hard Rock resorts.
The House made few concessions in their third offer at the day’s final meeting, signing off on minor issues but refusing to grant the Seminoles the right to hold tabled card games.
Lawmakers are trying to come up with a replacement compact after the Florida Supreme Court tossed out an agreement between the tribe and Crist allowing blackjack, baccarat and chemin de fer at its casinos.
After the ruling, the tribe continued to operate the games at the Hard Rock near Hollywood and started running them in their Tampa facility.
Rep. Bill Galvano, the House’s chief gambling negotiator, said that granting the tribe permission to have the games was tantamount to “rewarding bad behavior.”
Crist said the House should approve the compact “cuz the kids need the money” for education but bristled when asked about Galvano’s remarks.
“That’s up to them to decide. It’s in their hands,” he said.
Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander, who had been negotiating throughout the day on gambling, tobacco taxes and the budget, left hurriedly after the meeting looking displeased with “House Offer #3.”
Alexander, R-Lake Wales, had counted on up to $500 million from the Seminoles for education spending. Lawmakers may need to return to Tallahassee for a special session on gambling if they do not reach consensus before Friday, the last day of the extended session.