On the heels of the Senate’s pass earlier in the week, on Friday night the state’s House of Representatives failed to address legislation that would have radically changed Florida’s gambling landscape, officially declaring them dead.
After a bill that had been heavily amended and approved by the House Finance and Tax Committee failed to be considered by the Florida House on Friday, the legislation met its demise, according to the Daily Racing Form. On Tuesday, versions of similar bills were removed from the Senate Appropriations Committee docket. Leaders of the Senate said afterward that they had no intention of hearing the legislation prior to the session’s end on Friday, March 11.
The legislation was designed to allow a new gaming compact with the tribe, worth $3 billion in revenue over the first seven years of the twenty-year agreement, negotiated last year between Governor Rick Scott and the Seminole Tribe regarding the operation of its seven casinos. However, the bills also became host to a number of other gambling provisions deemed necessary to get the legislation passed, which undoubtedly led to its demise.
Not only would the bills have allowed the controversial decoupling of all of the state’s greyhound tracks, provisions protecting live racing at Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park were also included. An annual $40 million subsidy for breeders’ awards at the tracks and purses was also tacked on. The failure of the legislation is probably a good indicator that the provisions in the bill, such as the purse pool for Tampa and Gulfstream or the decoupling, will not be addressed as separate provisions this year by the legislature, as they were fashioned in relation to the terms of the compact negotiated with the Seminoles.
It is expected that the Seminoles will operate their seven gambling properties under the terms of a compact that expired in 2015 while a new round of negotiations is opened with Scott. The tribe and the state also have competing lawsuits that could be resolved this summer. The outcome of those suits could influence the discussions between the two parties.
Directly impacted by the lawsuits are five of the tribe’s seven casinos including the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood; the former being one of the world’s most lucrative casinos. More than $1 billion in revenue has been shared with the state since 2010 by the Seminole.