The Republican Governor for Florida, Rick Scott (pictured), has reportedly agreed a deal that would continue to give the Seminole Tribe of Florida the exclusive rights to offer banked card games such as blackjack across the southern state through to the conclusion of the 2019 legislative session.
According to a recent report from the local Sun-Sentinel newspaper, the agreement ostensibly renews a five-year provision that was part of the federally-recognized tribe’s 2010 gambling compact and would see the state continue to receive more than $300 million a year in associated exclusivity payments until the end of May of 2019.
The newspaper reported that the deal was finalized in the midst of behind-the-scenes talks between legislators concerning the future of Florida’s casino industry and would moreover see the Seminole Tribe of Florida remain as the only group permitted to operate slots outside of Miami-Dade County and Broward County.
“Today, I am proud to announce that the state of Florida has reached an agreement with the Seminole Tribe [of Florida] that ensures the tribe’s current commitment remains intact,” reportedly read a prepared Wednesday statement from 65-year-old Scott. “Since I took office, the Seminole [Tribe of Florida] compact has generated more than $1.75 billion, which has helped our state make historic investments in things like Florida’s education and environment.”
The Sun-Sentinel reported that the signing of the deal followed the expiration in March of a temporary settlement that had seen the Seminole Tribe of Florida agree to continue making annual payments for its state-wide exclusivity on banked card games despite its original deadline expiring in 2015.
Although the tribe had never threatened to stop making these payments, the newspaper reported that a recent ruling from a federal judge over the legality of designated-player games at other state-regulated parimutuel venues meant that such an action would have been well within its rights.
But, Barry Richard, a Tallahassee-based lawyer for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, reportedly told the Sun-Sentinel that the new deal was designed to give Florida legislators and the Governor’s office ‘a level of comfort’ regarding the possibility that the group may have been about to stop making payments.
The newspaper reported that the agreement could additionally be an effort by Scott, who will be leaving office in January in order to run for a seat in the United States Senate, to head off any legislative attempts to permit slots outside of Broward County and Miami-Dade County.
Finally, the Sun-Sentinel reported that the new agreement could also be a way for the two-term Governor to influence legislators as they consider whether to hold a special session on gambling in advance of Floridians heading to the polls in November. This election may purportedly see voters consider the Voter Control of Gambling Amendment, which, if passed, would tighten the reins on lawmakers by requiring them to gain at least a 60% majority before ratifying any future form of expanded gaming legislation.