Moving to implement the latest version of a gaming compact between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the full Senate took up SB 622 by Sen. Dennis L. Jones (R-Seminole) for second reading on April 8, 2010. The bill is scheduled to come before the Senate for final passage on April 15, 2010.
If the bill passes both houses as expected, it will provide $437.5 million in additional funds for the 2010 – 2011 state budget. This amount includes revenue from Seminole gaming operations going back to the original 2007 gaming compact that have been held in escrow as well as expected revenues from the first year of operation of the new compact.
The 20-year compact guarantees at least $1 billion in payments to the state over the first five years of operation. It allows the tribe the exclusive authority to operate banked card games such as blackjack in Florida, but limits the games to five casinos: Coconut Creek, Hard Rock-Hollywood, Hollywood-Classic, Immokalee, and Hard Rock-Tampa. The tribe would be able to operate Las Vegas-style slot machines (known as Class III slots) at all seven of its existing facilities. The right to operate Class III slot machines would be exclusive except for Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, where parimutuel facilities are currently allowed to operate the machines.
The bill also attempts to reduce the competitive impact on parimutuel facilities by allowing no-limit poker at card rooms, extending hours of operation, allowing video bingo and historic race machines, and reducing taxes and fees.
Similar legislation passed the House Select Committee on Seminole Indian Compact Review on April 7, 2010 by a vote of 15-3.