Gambling deal on its way to governorby Dara Kam | April 19th, 2010
A gambling deal that promises to bring at least $1 billion to the state over the next five years is on its way to Gov. Charlie Crist, who has promised to sign it into law.
The Florida House approved the measure (SB 622) by a 74-39 vote this afternoon.
It’s the third time Crist and the Seminole Tribe of Florida have signed off on a compact allowing the tribe to operate banked card games, including blackjack, and slot machines at its casinos.
The latest deal would allow the Seminoles to continue banked card games – blackjack, baccarat and chemin de fer – at five of their seven casinos. Cards would not be allowed at the Brighton and Big Cypress facilities.
The agreement could rake in an extra $435 million for this year’s budget and help lawmakers struggling to fill a $3.2 billion spending gap for the year that begins July 1.
In return, the tribe will pay $150 million a year to the state for two years and a minimum of $223 million for three years that.
The agreement with the tribe also lets them keep running Las Vegas-style slot machines at each of their facilities for the next 20 years.
Rep. Bill Galvano, the House’s chief gambling negotiator who helped craft the pact, said the bill won’t expand gambling in Florida because the tribe has already launched the games.
Proponents of the agreement say the deal with the Seminoles could transform Florida into the Las Vegas of the Southeast and pave the way for other, non-tribal gambling operations in the future.
But opponents of the measure argued that more gambling will bring a host of problems to the state.
“If you want gambling like that you should go to Las Vegas. And what happens in Las Vegas should stay in Las Vegas,” said Rep. Ronald “Doc” Renuart, R-Ponte Vedra Beach.