Let me offer some short, free and subtle (ahem) advice to our friends, The Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Our man in Tallahassee, Jim Rosica, reported this week that the Tribe’s lawyer “said his client is offended over gambling that violates its exclusive agreement with the state.”
They won’t agree to a new Seminole Compact, Barry Richard said, unless the Legislature ends attempts to expand slots and card games at pari-mutuels and allow daily fantasy play in state statute.
That was mostly a swipe at the Senate, which is A-OK with such moves.
And why not? As Senate President Joe Negron said of new slots, lawmakers “owe it to the hundreds of thousands of fellow citizens who … have approved (slot machine) referendums … They decided they wanted additional slots … I think that needs to be given great weight.”
I now direct your attention to Brian Ballard. The state’s lobbyist-in-chief, whom we suspect has a Batphone to the President of the United States, reps fantasy sports site FanDuel, as well as Churchill Downs, and other gaming interests.
More to the point, Ballard represents MGM Resorts International, which has nearly $1 billion invested in a casino planned for Springfield, Massachusetts.
As POLITICO recently reported, the Interior Department—which oversees Indian gaming—refused to sign off on the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes’ plans for a third Connecticut casino right across the border from MGM’s site.
That was after Secretary Ryan Zinke and others “held numerous meetings and phone calls with MGM lobbyists and the company’s Republican supporters in Congress.”
And remember, Donald Trump isn’t a big fan of Indian gaming.
In the early 1990s, Trump attacked expanding Native American–run casinos that he believed posed a threat to his own gambling empire, Newsweek has written. In media appearances, he claimed Native American reservations had fallen under mob control, and he questioned the ethnicity of Native Americans on a Connecticut reservation.
“ ‘I think I might have more Indian blood than a lot of the so-called Indians that are trying to open up the reservations,’ Trump said during a 1993 radio interview with shock jock Don Imus,” the magazine reported.
So, I dunno, maybe it’s time to make a deal that gives the pari-mutuels at least some of what they want. Otherwise the federal government may not approve any agreement the Legislature reaches.