Florida Senate Bill Passes Committee with a Major Concession

The Florida Senate is moving forward with legislation to control state gambling this week. A 90-page rewrite of the Senate's gambling bill passed the Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance and Tax on Monday by unanimous vote. The bill contains a major concession, bringing it closer to the House gambling proposal.

Borrowed directly from the House bill, the Senate included a provision that would give the Seminole Tribe of Florida exclusive rights to blackjack and slot machines outside of South Florida for the next 20 years.

The Senate was previously staunch in its position that Florida counties which voted in favor adding slot machines should be allowed to have them. However, it would allow the state's commercial card rooms to offer player-banked games, something which both the House and the Seminole tribe oppose.

The Senate provision regarding the Seminole compact would renew a 20-year agreement, and secure $3 billion in revenue payments to the state over the next seven years. The Seminole will also be able to add craps and roulette to their casinos.

The bill now goes to the full Appropriations Committee. A spokesperson for the Seminole tribe declined to comment on the bill when asked on Monday, and Senators admitted it would likely need a few tweaks before it is accepted by the tribe.

The State's current compact with the Seminole Tribe stipulates that the Tribe can cease revenue payments if they believe other games are played that impinge on their exclusive gambling rights. State lawmakers have until November to secure tribal payments, before a potential change in the way Florida legalizes gambling comes up for a vote.

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