Florida group seeks slots

Florida group seeks slots

March 13, 2018 3:00 AM

A group of Florida horse and greyhound pari-mutuel racetrack owners is seeking to upend the Seminole Tribe’s near monopoly on casino gaming in the state by offering lawmakers additional profit sharing if they are allowed to expand their gambling options, reports Florida Politics, a major media outlet in the state.

Florida Politics says it has been told the group is working on a plan that would increase the amount of revenue they share with the state to a sum equal to or more than the Seminole’s contributions. In return, the state would grant them the right to offer slot machines in counties that had approved them in local referenda.

Currently the Seminoles’ Hard Rock-branded casinos are the only venues in Florida authorized to operate slots along with the pari-mutuel entities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, such as the Mardi Gras and Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach and the Isle Casino in Pompano Beach.

Eight other counties have approved slots through individual referenda, but without new legislation or the constitutional authorization provided by a statewide referendum, the terminals remain illegal with the politically mighty Seminoles seeking to maintain the status quo.

The tribe also has the exclusive right to offer house-banked games, such as blackjack, throughout Florida.

The tribe and the state failed to reach an agreement in the most recent session of the Florida Legislature that would have increased payments by the Seminoles in exchange for the state allowing them to retain their exclusivity.

The situation could soon be further complicated when a November Florida constitutional amendment, largely funded by the Seminoles and Disney, is on the ballot. The amendment, if approved, allows voters to decide on any further gambling expansion in the state.

The pari-mutuels, which include Florida jai alai frontons, believe that with slot machines they can match the $200 million to $300 million a year the state wants from the Seminoles, according to Florida Politics.