Rick Scott mum on meeting with Seminole Tribe

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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.

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

  • Eric Keaton

    December 6, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Hey Jim !! Whats up with Corcoran? Why can’t he be more specific with the idea of wanting less gambling.? Less for who.? Im sure that with Judge Hinkle’s ruling – Gambling in Florida was significantly REDUCED. And when the Seminoles offer more games, why is it viewed as expanded gambling in Florida? Wouldn’t the existence of a Compact prove that the State of Florida is seperate from the tribal govt.? So expanded gambling in the Seminole Tribe is not expanded Gambling in FLorida. Right.? All these counties Voted for Slots.. Yes they will have slots – Just not until 2030 – Like I said before – End the 20yr death grip the tribe has on Florida. Give the Seminoles Class IV status – Allow the counties to light up the night sky – Decouple the Paramutuels – Open new race tracks in the Palm Beach outback. Shine a bright light back on rodeo, barrel racing, and Polo. All the tribe is asking for is the right to be a Class IV entity. Or the state can do it all the hard way. And fight until 2030 – Everyones term will be over by then anyway. Im sure we all could have been past this fight 20yrs ago if Jeb wasn’t so staunch. Anyway good talking with ya.

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