Blackjack cash bolsters state budget


Gov. Rick Scott built gambling money from the Seminole Tribe of Florida into his proposed $85 billion state budget for 2018-19.

The Tribe and the state this summer settled a lawsuit over its ability to exclusively offer “banked card games” such as blackjack.

Since then, “the payments associated with banked card games that the state has held in reserve ($233.8 million) have been released into General Revenue,” according to the governor’s budget website.

“Future revenue share payments have been treated as non-recurring revenues,” it says. “These payments are estimated to be $272.5 million for Fiscal Year 2017-18 and more than $280 million for Fiscal Year 2018-19.”

A blackjack provision in a prior agreement from 2010, known as the Seminole Compact, expired in 2015. In December of that year, Scott had negotiated a new blackjack deal in return for $3 billion to state coffers over seven years. Lawmakers did not approve it.

The original 2010 deal actually wound up being worth more than $200 million per year in revenue share to state coffers. Blackjack and other gambling, including slots, has brought in billions for the Tribe.

A year later, a federal judge ruled that the state—in allowing other card games that played too much like blackjack at pari-mutuel cardrooms—broke the original deal and let the Tribe have blackjack till 2030.

The Tribe was no longer obligated to pay revenue share from blackjack games but did so out of good faith in the hopes of brokering a settlement. The cut of the money from blackjack was “administratively segregated” in the General Revenue Fund until the Tribe and state reached a deal.

The settlement terms are simple: The tribe still gets to continue dealing blackjack till 2030. The state will continue to accept a cut of the take.

The Seminoles have Vegas-style and other gambling at seven casinos around the state, including Tampa’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. They offer blackjack at their Tampa, Hollywood, Coconut Creek, Immokalee and Hollywood locations.

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


    November 15, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    The terms were simple…The tribe still gets to continue dealing blackjack till 2030. The state will continue to accept a cut of the take. !!! IF THE STATE TOOK AGGRESSIVE ACTION TO REMOVE DESIGNATED PLAYER GAMES FROM THE RACE TRACKS..

    Since the games clearly establish a single bank and the players do not player each other simultaneously the Seminoles do not have to pay a dime to anyone..

Comments are closed.


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