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September 28, 2021

Some legislative leaders expressed reservations about the renewed agreement

Florida Governor urges legislature to pass Seminole Tribe casino deal

(US).- Governor Charlie Crist said this week that he hopes the Legislature will approve his new 20-year casino deal with the Seminole Tribe, warning that otherwise the federal government will let the games go on without any payments to the state.


ttorney General Bill McCollum said he still considers the card games and slot machines illegal, despite the us$ 6.8 billion compact worked out between the governor and tribal elders. McCollum said he stands ready to advise the Legislature, which is expected to take up the compact in an October special legislative session.

Some legislative leaders have expressed reservations about the renewed agreement, saying it will get careful study. Crist said the US Department of Interior might permit gambling on sovereign Seminole land, without any payments to the state, if legislators don't pass the pact.

"I hope they do. That's their decision and they have the independence to make that call, but I know it would be good for Florida's school children and Florida's teachers," said Crist. "My concern is, if we don't, if the Legislature doesn't, that the federal government will allow them to do it anyway and then we won't get a dime of the money."

Yesderday, a major pari-mutuel executive warned that the Seminole compact will wipe out jobs in the dog-racing industry, which has been already hard hit by casino competition.

Isadore Havenick, vice president of Southwest Florida Enterprises, parent company of Flagler Dog Track and Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track, said Crist's new deal "goes far beyond the limited gaming expansion the Legislature strived for during the 2009 legislative session, and instead doubles the banked card game casinos in Florida." He said the compact "ends competition in Florida's gaming marketplace" by giving the tribe exclusive rights to casino gaming outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties and that local governments "will lose hundreds of millions of dollars" if it is approved.

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