Chamber of Commerce poll shows support for Seminole blackjack deal

Seminole hard rock Casino Tampa

The Florida Chamber of Commerce came out in support of the new Seminole Compact on Thursday, releasing poll results showing three-quarters of voters say the blackjack deal “has been good for the state.”

The deal, negotiated by Gov. Rick Scott, allows the Seminole Tribe of Florida to continue offering blackjack at its casinos in return for a $3 billion cut to the state over seven years.

In 2010, the tribe agreed to pay at least $1 billion into the state treasury for rights to offer the card game at seven of its casinos, including the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa. That provision expired this past summer, requiring a new meeting of minds.

“Floridians are nearly unanimous in agreeing that our state is a family-friendly tourist destination, and support a continued partnership with the Seminole Tribe of Florida,” Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber, said in a statement.

The new compact “presents Florida with the most reasonable path toward controlled gaming operations that also provide significant economic stability to Florida,” he added.

“After hearing the details of the (new) proposal, three-fourths of voters in Florida believe the Legislature should approve of the new 20-year Compact,” the Chamber’s press release said. “This clearly indicates that as voters become more educated as to what is included in this new Compact, public support should increase.”

Not everyone else agrees.

The 63-page document also would let the Seminoles add roulette and craps tables, as well as permit the Legislature to OK slot machines at the Palm Beach Kennel Club and allow blackjack at some South Florida racetracks “with some limitations.”

John Sowinski, who leads the No Casinos anti-expansion group, has said the renegotiated agreement “will lead to the largest gambling expansion in state history, taking South Florida in the direction of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.”

And even Scott backpedaled just a day after announcing the deal last month, saying state lawmakers will “make a decision if they want to look at the compact … It’s good for the state. But the Legislature will decide whether they want to go forward.”

The Chamber’s poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies in Alexandria, Virginia, on Dec. 28-30, with 700 registered voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent.

For detailed question-wording and responses, and crosstab information, click here and here.

Other findings from the poll include:

  • When asked whether the agreement between the state and the Tribe has been mostly good for the state, mostly bad for the state or somewhere in-between, fully 30 percent of Floridians say it’s been mostly good, 11 percent say it’s been mostly bad, and 54 percent say it’s “somewhere in-between.”
  • By a wide 38 percent to 11 percent margin, Florida voters think the Seminole Tribe kept its end of the agreement with the state to provide a minimum of $1 billion over five years in revenue.
  • Fully 95 percent of Florida voters say that they consider the state’s entertainment options to be “family-friendly.”
  • When asked whether the opportunities for gambling in the state should be expanded, reduced or kept at about the same level, the number of Florida voters who opt for keeping them at about the same level outnumber those who want an increase or a decrease by about 2-to-1. (Keep them the same – 53 percent, expand – 27 percent, reduce – 19 percent).



Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


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