Gov. Rick Scott Tuesday held his cards close to his vest about the future of a gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
Seminole Gaming CEO Jim Allen, general counsel Jim Shore and others were in Tallahassee Monday for meetings.
Scott, who spoke with reporters after a Florida Cabinet meeting, didn’t get into specifics of his meeting with them.
“We’ll continue to look at what the right thing is for the state of Florida,” Scott said. “We’ll be looking at what we do next. The Legislature didn’t pass it last year. So we’ll continue to work with legislators, and see what their interests are.”
The state and tribe struck a long-term deal in 2010—the Seminole Compact—that included a provision, expired last year, giving the Seminoles exclusive rights to offer blackjack for five years in return for revenue share to the state. That meant more than $200 million per year.
Scott and tribal representatives then agreed on a new deal for continued rights to blackjack in exchange for $3 billion over seven years. But that agreement couldn’t get to either floor for a vote last Legislative Session; it contained provisions that would have allowed the tribe to also offer craps and roulette—that is, more games.
Senate President Joe Negron recently said he backs its passage, but added he was comfortable with related initiatives seen as an expansion of gambling, such as local initiatives to allow slot machines.
House Speaker Richard Corcoran, on the other hand, has said “we’re a very conservative chamber, and if something is going to pass it will have to be conservative. It’s going to have to be a reduction in gambling.”
Negron countered: “I’m optimistic that we can work together with our colleagues in the House and ratify a compact so the state has predictability in revenue.”
But the state’s leverage went down after a federal judge ruled the tribe can continue to offer blackjack and other “banked card games” without having to pay the state a dime.
Judge Robert Hinkle found that the state reneged on the original deal by allowing blackjack-like card games at certain cardrooms, meaning the tribe can have blackjack until 2030 at its Hard Rock Casinos across the state, including its Tampa location.