Bill Galvano hopeful—but not betting—on gambling resolution

slot machines

The Senate’s point man on gambling issues Tuesday said he sees “a way forward” on a grand gambling bargain—but also suggested lawmakers may have to fold ’em and walk away.

Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, is representing his chamber as he and House Speaker-designate Jose Oliva try to land a comprehensive gambling bill that’s eluded the Legislature for years.

The House has proposed including in that package a renewed deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida guaranteeing the state $3 billion over seven years from the Tribe’s gambling revenue. That’s in return for exclusive rights to offer blackjack and slot machines outside of South Florida.

Galvano and Oliva met last week with tribal leaders, after which Barry Richard, the Tribe’s outside counsel, told Florida Politics his client wouldn’t bend to allowing new slots in the state, continued playing of “designated player” card games, or expressly legalizing fantasy sports play.

“Those things are non-starters for the Tribe,” Richard said in an interview last week. “It’s insulting to the Tribe to say, ‘yeah, pay us more and by the way, we’re going to increase your competition.’ ” The Seminoles pay the state more than $200 million yearly, and are projected to pay over $380 million next fiscal year.


“The impression I got, and I was at the meeting, was not that the Tribe was unwilling to compromise,” Galvano said. “They raised the greatest concern with regard to the expansion of slots. The designated player games are subject to many different machinations (and) definitions. So I believe that issue is still in play.

“The pressure points on the Tribe include a lack of stability on their part, the fact that if we feel like that there’s not a path forward, we’re going to have to re-evaluate and maybe make a change to the gaming (currently) in the state of Florida to recoup revenues … before a potential amendment passes,” he added.

That refers to the proposed “Voter Control of Gambling” constitutional amendment that will be on the November ballot. It would require voter approval for any new or added gaming in the state. And if it gets 60 percent approval, lawmakers will be indefinitely shut out from influencing gambling.

“And there are still other games that the Tribe wants, like craps and roulette, so we’re still open to discussion,” Galvano said. He said he spoke with Richard earlier Tuesday and expects to hear from the Tribe again by the end of the week.

“I am comfortable there is a way forward. I’m not saying it’s a failsafe. But there definitely is opportunity on the table to go forward,” the senator said.

And what if the Tribe won’t back down on new slots and designated player games, which the Senate proposal allows?

“I think we would have to regroup on how we want our relationship to exist with the Tribe going forward,” Galvano said. “This is based on my assessment on the landscape before us.”

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].


  • Thomas Jordan

    February 6, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    It eludes me why the tribe and its members (who lived in abject poverty 30 years ago) would deny the town of Gretna, FL one of the poorest communities in the State of Florida a chance to pull itself up by its bootstraps like the tribe so admirably did.

    Gretna, FL as you recall received a shameless slap down from the Supreme Court of Florida last year. How dare they try to align themselves with the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and better themselves via gaming and assail the SW Florida compact agreement?

    Getting to the heart of the issue; there are few, if any industries except prisons in our inland panhandle and even fewer in our county.

    The tribe doesn’t lose a gaming chip of revenue from the operations of another Indian owned Para mutual in this impoverished panhandle town.
    Gretna,FL is eight driving hours away from their reservation, Biloxi, Mi. less than five in the opposite direction with full casino gaming, how much revenue can the tribe really lose from Gretna, FL?

    • Eric Keaton

      February 6, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      the problem is that Florida doesn’t recognized the Poarch Creeks as a Florida Tribe. So if they were to install slot machines it would violate floridas’ compact the seminole. Gretna could just sell their city to the seminole and then the seminole would put the city into trust and Gretna would have a casino… technically.

      If i were Gretna … I would just build a bingo hall and install video terminal lottery games that played instant bingo.. just saying. It wouldn’t violate the compact.

  • Juan Gonzales

    February 6, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    Thomas, Are you the same Thomas Jordan that bought 160 acres adjourning the Gretna facility as a speculative investment right after the place was announced? Could your real hope be more self serving that jobs creation and economic impact for the area?

  • Michael

    February 7, 2018 at 11:09 am

    I like the way people think that gambling is the cure all for everything when someone or place needs a shot of money for their pocket. You people are the most stupid gamblers ever. The state already gets hundreds of millions of dollars (billion maybe?) every year from the lottery and the racetracks and the casinos and is suppose to distribute the money accordingly. Just because Gretna is a dump it doesn’t mean that having a casino in the neighborhood will make it a shrine. It will make it an armpit with slot machines. Get the State to distribute the money correctly..

Comments are closed.


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