Casino Watch Focus has been providing updates to the gambling compact between the Florida Legislature and the Seminole Indians. It was last determined that no special session would be extended for the negotiations, thus setting the compact back to square one. With the legislative session beginning, the first step in moving the compact forward is to vote on the compact in a committee. The Miami Herald is reporting the results of that committee vote:
In a 10-minute meeting intended as a rebuke to Gov. Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe, a Florida House committee shot down the governor’s gambling agreement with the tribe and offered up a bill that would give financial relief to its gambling competitors.
The Seminole Indian compact review committee voted 15-0 to reject both the governor’s gambling agreement and the $225 million the tribe had set aside for the state’s education system if a compact had been completed. It then voted 15-2 to lower the tax rate on slot machines at South Florida parimutuels and loosened some gambling limits.
The next step, House leaders say, is for the federal government to shut down slot machines and blackjack tables at the tribe’s casinos until a compact is signed.
Casino Watch Focus originally reported that the Florida house speaker asked the National Indian Gaming Commission to stop the illegal table games in tribal casinos. The Herald is reporting that The NGIC is still monitoring the situation and has yet to intervene in the matter:
In November, House Speaker Larry Cretul sent a letter to the National Indian Gaming Commission, which regulates tribal gaming, urging it to halt the tribe’s casino games because their “ability to profit from these illegal games creates a disincentive to enter into a compact, and places the state at a significant disadvantage in negotiating games to which it never gave its consent.”
The tribe is running Las Vegas-style slot machines, blackjack, baccarat and other table games based on a 2007 compact that was invalidated by the Florida Supreme Court because it allowed the tribe to operate games that were illegal under Florida law. Crist signed a new compact with the tribe on Aug. 31, but it is not valid unless the Legislature ratifies it.
NIGC spokesman Shawn Pensoneau said the agency is monitoring the compact issue in Florida but there would be no immediate action. Galvano said he expects a decision could come this month.