Florida gaming compact needs resolution

Apr 3, 2018 3:00 AM

Key Florida lawmakers say they may call a special session to try and reach a consensus on new laws for governing casinos and pari-mutuel gambling in the state.

There remain major concerns Florida needs to quickly resolve its gaming compact disputes with the powerful Seminole Tribe, currently holder of a virtual monopoly on casino-style gambling in the state. The Florida Legislature adjourned for 2018 three weeks ago without coming to terms on a new gaming compact.

Leaders in both chambers now say the issue is so critical to the financial health of the state they may call a special legislative session.

Through its revenue-sharing gaming compact, the Seminole Tribe paid the state more than $290 million during the last fiscal year. In exchange, the Native American casinos possess exclusivity on house-banked games, most notably blackjack.

There is additional urgency for lawmakers to reconvene as soon as possible because voters in November will be presented a proposed constitutional amendment asking if they wish to strip the Legislature of its power to make a new deal.

Voters will be asked if they want the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling.” For the measure to pass, the question will need to receive at least 60 percent support.