On August 31, 2009, Gov. Charlie Crist on behalf of the state signed a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The 20-year agreement would require the tribe to share specified percentages of its gaming profits with the state, with a minimum payment of $150 million a year. The governor's office estimates that the tribe would pay the state a total of $6.8 billion over the life of the compact.

The agreement will require legislative approval. During the 2009 legislative session, legislators passed SB 788, which set out the parameters for a gaming compact and required legislative ratification of any compact that differed from those parameters. In addition to differences over the amount to be paid to the state, key differences between the legislation and the August compact are:

  • The legislation would have limited blackjack and other banked card games to three casinos in Broward County and Tampa, while the compact allows the tribe to run blackjack and other banked card games at all seven of its casinos
  • The legislation would have allowed the expansion of slot machines to pari-mutuel facilities outside of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, while the compact gives the tribe the exclusive authority to operate slot machines outside of those two counties
  • Under the legislation, the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation would have been responsible for monitoring compliance, while the compact designates the Florida Department of Revenue as the regulatory agency

Pari-mutuel operators have expressed their opposition to the new compact. Legislators have made it clear that approval of the compact will not be automatic.

Most observers expect the compact to be considered at a special legislative session before the end of the year.