Fred Grimm: Seminole Tribe casino compact far from a sure thing

The Seminole Classic Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Photo from Facebook

The Florida Legislature is finally back at work and members will take up a Class III gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. But columnist Fred Grimm thinks the deal will be bogged down by too many competing interests:
The deal would allow racinos in Miami-Dade and Broward to add blackjack, but only with legislative approval. The Indians would also go along with legislation allowing slot machines at two new casinos. One in Miami-Dade — the long-coveted destination casino — and another at a greyhound track in Palm Beach County, where voters have already approved a slots referendum.

Except legislators representing Lee, Washington, Hamilton, Brevard and Gadsden counties, whose voters have similarly approved slots referendums, are finding the Palm Beach choice pretty damn arbitrary. Black lawmakers are particularly bothered that Gadsden, a majority black, very poor county in North Florida, desperate for an economic boost, was shut out of the 20-year compact.

Folks from Florida horse country around Ocala are incensed that the compact includes language allowing the state to relax or eliminate actual horse or dog racing from racino operations. They’re warning that the compact will devastate the state’s thoroughbred horse industry. (Dog breeders are making the same argument, but greyhound dog racing has fallen into such ill repute, they’re not much of a force in Tallahassee.)

Racinos want more. Pari-mutuels outside South Florida want slots. The big gaming conglomerates from Las Vegas and Asia won’t be happy with the provision allowing only one destination casino in Miami-Dade, shutting out Broward. And everyone has a platoon of lobbyists. Plus, it’s an election year, a time when the default mode for politicians is to avoid anything that reeks of controversy.

Get the Story:
Fred Grimm: Seminole gambling pact in Florida looks like a long shot (The Miami Herald 1/16)

Another Opinion:
Editorial: Seminole gaming compact good for state, but with important revision (The Naples Daily News 1/12)

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Editorial: Seminole Tribe's gaming compact is good for Florida (12/28)
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