Happy Cinco de Mayo for blackjack in Florida!
Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed the state’s compact with the Seminole tribe, bringing the compact into law. The compact was signed by the House of Representatives and the Florida Senate within the last couple of weeks. Getting those two bodies to sign a compact was the hard part. Once they had signed it many considered the compact done because Crist was already in favor of the Seminoles. But as of this morning it’s now official.
It’s taken the better part of the last few years, since 2007 in fact, to get the Seminoles and Florida’s legislature to agree on the compact terms. And it was to the benefit of the state to work something out as it would have not been good to be on bad terms with a sovereign nation within their own state lines.
With this compact the Seminoles, who originally were aiming at exclusive blackjack in all seven of their casinos, will have their sought-after exclusivity on blackjack, but will only be allowed to have blackjack in only five of their casinos: three in Broward County, one in Immokalee and one in Tampa. The exclusivity will last for five years, at which point the Seminoles and the legislature will go head-to-head again to determine the exclusivity of blackjack in Florida…again.
Also with this compact the Seminoles will have a twenty year exclusivity on Vegas style slots games.
So what is the cost for all this exclusivity? The Seminoles will be paying the state of Florida $1.5 billion over five years. Each yearly payment will cover the blackjack and the Vegas style slots. But if the state allows pari-mutuels or any other group blackjack in less than five years, or Vegas style slots in less than twenty years, the respective portion of the Seminoles’ payment will cease while they continue to pay for the exclusivity on the other.
Originally the money from the Seminoles was to be allotted for education, but the legislature wouldn’t agree to that. They wanted the money to go into Florida’s general fund. While Crist was sad to see the money go elsewhere, as are the parents of the state’s children, an agreement needed to be reached. Florida needs the money too badly.
So it’s in Florida’s interest to let the Seminoles do their thing for the next five years and twenty years. Crist was a happy man indeed to have succeeded in helping to work out an agreement between the legislature and the Seminoles.