Editorial: Seminole Tribe is a good gaming partner for Florida

Blackjack tables at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, Florida. Photo from Facebook

Florida newspaper calls on Gov. Rick Scott (R), state lawmakers and the Seminole Tribe to reach a Class III gaming compact rather than let the issue be decided in federal court:
The Seminoles have asked for federal mediation, alleging the state has violated their exclusive deal by letting South Florida racetrack casinos offer electronic blackjack games that look an awful lot like real blackjack games. The gambling industry, however, has classified these video games as slot machines because they rely on random number generators.

Meanwhile, Gov. Rick Scott's administration last week put the Seminoles on notice that they have 90 days to fold their blackjack and baccarat tables. By then, though, lawmakers will be back in Tallahassee for committee meetings in advance of January's early election-year session. Some believe that facing the threat of years-long litigation, a compromise may finally be reached this fall.

Perhaps. But if history is our guide, crafting an agreement that can pass the Legislature is a long shot, absent painful arm-twisting by leaders. A lot of lawmakers want nothing to do with gambling, especially in advance of the 2016 election. And a lot have local parimutuels — horse and dog racetracks, and jai alai frontons — that pay a tax rate three times higher than the Seminoles, face age-old limitations on their businesses and donate a lot of campaign cash to get their issues addressed, too. The parimutuels are the third rail in any gambling compromise, and must be considered in the negotiations with the tribe.

This past session, because gambling legislation quickly gets loaded with deadly amendments, the Senate tried simply to pass a one-year extension of the blackjack compact, a proposal embraced by hardly anyone, including the Seminoles. House leaders, by contrast, pushed a proposal that would have blown up the entire 20-year compact and taken a holistic approach to the industry's competing pressures. Neither succeeded. And this fall, the same people will be in the same seats.

Get the Story:
Editorial: Don't let judge decide gambling's future (The South Florida Sun-Sentinel 8/1)

Another Opinion:
Peter Schorsch: A deal is a deal — unless it’s the Seminole Compact (SaintPetersBlog 7/31)

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Seminole Tribe waits on response in Class III casino compact talks (07/06)
Editorial: Extend Class III casino compact with Seminole Tribe (06/30)
Seminole Tribe accuses state of violating Class III casino deal (6/25)

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