Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Odds for gambling deal get a little longer

The Miami Herald's Naked Politics Blog reports on a possible setback in talks between the Florida House and Senate over how to allow expanded gambling in the state:
With the governor and leaders of the Seminole Tribe sitting the front row, Sen. J.D. Alexander offered to return to the Senate position and give all Seminole casinos full banked card games. On Tuesday, they had offered to limit the options to just blackjack at the tribe casinos outside of Tampa and Hollywood.

"That may be receding a bit with our offer but in discussions with the leaders of the Seminole nation if we want them to make real payments,'' he said.

On parimutuels, the Senate agreed to offer electronic gaming to Palm Beach Kennel Club, Tampa Bay Downs and any other facility that is adjacent to a county with electronic gaming, including counties next to the Seminole's casinos. But the language specifically requires those counties to conduct a referendum and receive voter approval and it excludes Hialeah from the option until it has run two years of live races.

That, and a series of other issues, left the House chief negotiator Rep. Bill Galvano miffed. "With all due respect, the Senate ... is moving backwards from where we want to go from an expansion standpoint, backwards form where the House is heading. I'll look at your offer and will let you know if it's necessary to meet further,'' he said.

As Galvano, stood up to leave, Alexander said: "Well, that didn't go real well.''

The Senate offer required the Seminoles to offer a guaranteed revenue share of $150 million and it would be required to maintain that minimum payment even as their competitors acquired slot machines, unless their net win falls below $1.37 million even if there are additional machines added at competing tracks. Other issues included:
  • Historical racing would be allowed at parimutuel facilites and would share with the state 2 percent of its earnings.
  • Quarter horse purses would be supplemented.
  • Hialeah must have a track and be up and running when its starts its first card rooms.
Before the meeting, Galvano had met with Seminole leader Max Osceola, the governor's chief of staff Eric Eikenberg, Seminole president Jim Shore and briefly, Gov. Charlie Crist.

As the meeting fell apart, Crist said: "Let's see what happens over the next two hours.''

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