Crist gets gambling game onby Dara Kam | June 15th, 2009
Gov. Charlie Crist on Monday signed legislation setting the outlines for a proposed gambling deal with the Seminoles that could reap the state billions of dollars for education.
Lawmakers gave Crist until Aug. 31 to finish negotiations and sign a pact with the tribe — a step that still remains to be completed. The legislature must approve the contract once one is inked.
Under the 15-year agreement that lawmakers have outlined, the Seminoles could continue to have Las Vegas-style slot machines and blackjack, chemin de fer and baccarat at their two Broward County casinos and one in Hillsborough County.
The tribe would be limited to slots only at its remaining Florida locales, including Immokalee, which it had planned on expanding.
In exchange, the Seminoles would pay the state a minimum of $150 million a year as well as an escalating percentage of the profits on earnings over $2.5 billion. The money would all go to the state’s public schools.
The proposal also includes some perks for parimutuels that already run poker games. It would remove the limit on poker bets and allow card rooms to stay open longer. The bill (SB 788) would also lower the taxes that parimutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties pay on their slot machine take, from 50 percent to 35 percent.
“A ratified agreement will provide much needed revenue that can help us develop worldclass schools throughout the Sunshine State,” Crist said in a news release.
The Florida Supreme Court last year tossed out a previous agreement between Crist and the tribe, ruling that he over stepped his authority by granting the Seminoles card games that are prohibited elsewhere in the state.
By then, the Seminoles had begun hosting the card games and have continued to do so while waiting for lawmakers to approve a potential deal.