It may be just déjà vu all over again but Monday Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and the representatives of the Seminole Indian Nation signed a new agreement to expand gaming at the tribe’s Florida casinos.
To the state it means some $150 million in annual revenues. To the Seminoles, it means they can operate table games at all seven of their casinos. To the horse tracks, whose owners include Churchill Downs Inc. (CHDN), Magna Entertainment Inc. (MECA) and Isle of Capri Casinos Inc. (ISLE), it means additional economic benefits.
But, although details of the compromise signed by the two parties were not made available immediately, it was felt by some legislators as going beyond the conditions set by lawmakers who must approve the deal.
Crist is expected to call a special session of the legislature for October to vote on the pact.
Rep. Bill Galvano, the House’s lead negotiator in developing a compact with the Seminoles is already on record as saying, "If the compact deviates significantly from where we intended to go," the legislature would be unlikely to accept it.
And that’s exactly what happened the last time Crist and the Seminoles signed a compact agreement. The legislature failed to approve the deal and the Florida Supreme Court nullified it.
It was announced last week that Crist and the Seminoles had agreed to a plan but when the details emerged, they were found to go beyond the legislature’s expressed guidelines.
Specifically, the lawmakers insist the card games sought by the Seminoles should be limited to four properties, not seven. They would be in the tribe’s Hard Rock casinos in Hollywood and Tampa, and two other casinos in Broward County.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Ray Poirier