Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday continued to sound lukewarm on the prospects of his renegotiated deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would let them keep blackjack at their casinos.
Scott took questions after an afternoon bill-signing ceremony with House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and Senate President Andy Gardiner.
“Well, I did my job. We took the time; we have a good Compact … but I respect the leadership of the House, President Gardiner. Now it’s up to them; they’ll decide how we go forward with this,” he said.
Jeff Woodburn, Scott’s policy director, fielded a series of tough questions about the Seminole Compact at a Senate Regulated Industries Committee meeting Wednesday. The House has yet to hold a hearing.
It’s unclear at best whether the Legislature will approve the deal this session; committee Chairman Rob Bradley said changes to the Compact would likely be offered and considered “one by one.” It also has to be OK’d by federal Indian gambling regulators.
The deal would continue to allow blackjack exclusively in tribal casinos, including the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, in return for a $3 billion cut of the take over seven years.
But it would also let the Seminoles add craps and roulette tables, as well as permit the Legislature to OK slot machines at the Palm Beach Kennel Club and allow blackjack at certain South Florida racetracks. That has critics, including gambling opponents in the Legislature, down on the deal.
When asked whether he would lobby lawmakers for votes, Scott repeated, “I did my job (to get) a negotiated Compact. That’s the way it was supposed to work. It’s up to them. I respect whatever decision they make.”
Scott also didn’t bite at a question about whether he needs revenue from the Compact to ensure he gets his $1 billion tax cut package, his signature proposal for this year.
“Revenues are growing … I’m confident we’re going to see a billion dollars in tax cuts,” he said.
“The money is there?” he was asked. “Absolutely,” Scott said.