Having only days until the October 31st deadline that kills the compact between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe, it has now been made known that officials of the tribe and Governor Rick Scott met in secret yesterday morning. The two must come to some sort of consensus before the multi-million dollar compact extension runs out.
The Seminole Tribe owns the Hard Rock Casino in both Hollywood and Tampa. Officials of the tribe flew to Tallahassee for a meeting, using their private jet to make the trip. According to local media the governor had scheduled a meeting with the tribal members, but it was not included on his daily schedule.
The 2010 compact allows the tribe a number of options when it comes to casino gaming. The most important being the exclusive operation of table games. To be able to run such games as blackjack and baccarat, the tribe has to make payments to the state. This portion of the contract ended back in July, but the tribe has 90 days in which to seek a new deal. That extension expires on the 31st of October.
Over the summer and into the fall, legislators tried among themselves to negotiate an option to renew, amend or expand with the Seminole Tribe contract. Once an offer is made and accepted, the governor must then give his approval and sign the compact for it to be valid.
According to Representative Jose Felix Diaz, legislators had discussed increasing the yearly payment to the state to a number from $200 to $400 million a year. This payment would be based on revenues and spread out over a time frame of seven to twenty years. Other options were discussed but no details have yet been released.
As the Chairman of the House Regulated Affairs Committee, Diaz stated that legislators did not agree during discussions and the issue is complicated as most legislators are divided over the main issues. A final agreement must be made that will please individuals who want to preserve the local pari-mutuels as well as control gaming expansion and create more revenues.