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Ron DeSantis budget doesn’t count on gambling money

Don’t bet on it, but there’s a chance.

A $91.4 billion budget proposal released Monday by Gov. Ron DeSantis does not include money from the Seminole Tribe of Florida, though DeSantis appeared to hold out the possibility of reaching a gambling deal with the tribe.

DeSantis and the Legislature this spring were unable to seal a deal between the Seminoles and the state aimed at resolving a protracted legal battle over controversial “designated player” card games operated by many Florida pari-mutuels.

A federal judge found the designated player games violated a so-called compact between the tribe and the state in which the Seminoles agreed to pay about $350 million a year in exchange for “exclusive” rights to operate banked card games, such as blackjack, at most of its Florida casinos. After this spring’s Legislative Session, the tribe cut off payments to the state.

DeSantis said Monday state officials should not assume they will have money from the tribe as they put together a 2020-2021 budget.

“We’re not assuming that,” he said. “I would like to get a compact done, and I think we may have a path to do it.”

He indicated it wouldn’t be “prudent” to count on a deal.

“I’m not saying you should bet that it won’t get done, but I think it would be a huge mistake to do a budget and say, ‘Oh, yeah, I need this money.’ Like, no, we’re doing a budget saying we don’t need it, and then we can go ahead and go from there and see what we have going on.”

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