House Select Committee on Seminole Indian Compact Review Chairman Rep. Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) has acknowledged that he is engaged in direct negotiations with the Seminole Tribe of Florida regarding a gaming compact. “I think we're willing to talk a different level than we have in the past,” Rep. Galvano said, describing the negotiation process of the last three years as “more the governor's negotiation with a post-participation by the Legislature.” Sen. Mike Haridopolos (R-Melbourne), Senate President-Designate for the 2010 – 2012 biennium, also is participating in the talks.
Gov. Crist signed a gaming compact with the tribe in November 2007, but the Supreme Court of Florida voided that agreement because it had not been ratified by the Legislature. In August 2009, the governor and the tribe signed another compact and submitted it for legislative approval. The House select committee rejected the revised compact on January 14, 2010.
Reports indicate that negotiators are close to agreement on a plan that would generate approximately $150 million a year in revenue to the state, provided the tribal casinos retain the exclusive ability to operate blackjack and other banked card games. The state would apparently have some ability to rescind the tribe's monopoly on blackjack, but at the cost of sharply reduced revenues from the tribal casinos.
Rep. Galvano said he was “optimistic” about resolving the issue. Seminole Tribe attorney Barry Richard also spoke positively about the negotiations, saying that “it's the first time the House and Senate leadership is talking directly to us. If both sides can find neutral ground, we can make it work.”