Seminole Compact dies (again) in Legislature

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The Florida House of Representatives “temporarily postponed” consideration of this year’s troubled gambling legislation, suggesting last-minute whip counts showed a lack of votes to pass the bills.

Friday’s move signals that any possibility of legislative approval of the state’s new gambling agreement, or Compact, with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is dead for the session, which ends next Friday.

The Senate had already given up on it: The Compact “will be for another day, and for somebody else to handle,” President Andy Gardiner said earlier this week. This is his final year in office.

“Gaming bills tend to die of their own weight,” he said.

It’s now up to the tribe whether it triggers its “nuclear option,” making good on a promise by Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen that the tribe would lay off thousands of casino workers across the state if the deal died this year.

Gov. Rick Scott this Wednesday repeated the threat before reporters: “According to the Seminoles, if the Compact is not passed, 3,700 people are going to lose their jobs.”

Gary Bitner, the Seminoles’ spokesman, “respectfully declined comment” Friday night.

The new Seminole Compact was worth $3 billion over seven years in revenue share to the state, but also contained key provisions that critics said expand gambling in Florida, such as allowing the Tribe to offer craps and roulette.

Moreover, lawmakers trying to appease pari-mutuel interests, such as horse and dog tracks, added on even more measures to expand gambling, including slot machines and card games. But that move ensured its demise among legislators shy of seeming too cozy with gambling interests.

We’ll add more comment to this story as we get it.


Jim Rosica ([email protected]) covers the Florida Legislature, state agencies and courts from Tallahassee. 

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]


One comment

  • M. K.

    April 24, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    I’m wondering if/when Tampa Bay Downs will build a casino? I wen’t on vacation to the Miami/Hollywood/Ft. Lauderdale area with a friend last summer to do a little casino hopping. It was fun but it would be more fun if we didn’t have to drive 4 hours or 10 hours to go to Biloxi. The Seminole Hard Rock is just no fun to go to anymore. They seem to cater to high rollers and have cut back or cut out completely incentives for seniors. It would be great if there were some other Casinos to choose from here in the TampaBay area. It would be especially convenient to have one in Pinellas county. The gambling cruise boats are pretty much of a joke and don’t really count, in my opinion. I am against the Seminole compact. They have a monopoly on this area. I would like to see more competition/choices.

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