While the most recent bill to settle the long-standing conflict between the State of Florida and the Seminoles works its way through the House and soon the Senate, more voices are coming forward to cry out against the Seminole’s exclusivity.
If the bill runs its course through the House, the Senate and finally to Governor Charlie Crist, the Seminoles would have to pay $1.5 billion over five years to have exclusivity to games like blackjack. There would be an immediate payment to the state of $435 million. And with a $3.2 billion gap in the Florida budget the money is needed—particularly for education.
However there are two groups that are very much against the Seminoles winning this exclusivity—one for greed and one for the good of our own morale well-being.
The first group is comprised of the pari-mutuels of Florida. The dog and horse tracks have been a part of Florida’s gambling culture for decades. But the last few years there has been a decline in interest at the dog and horse tracks.
This could be for a couple of reasons. 1. The people are no longer interested in betting on dog and horse races, and have been attracted to the Vegas-style games like blackjack that can now be found within their own state—no more travelling to Vegas or Atlantic City for the casino experience. 2. With the increase in awareness of animal abuse, many people feel that the treatment of dog and horses in the races are not treated humanely, and that the races themselves are inhuman.
Pari-mutuels fear losing business to the tribe casinos. They fear that they won’t be able to compete. Unfortunately, times change and people’s interest changes. While the tracks site that they will be forced to cut jobs due to a loss of income thanks to the Seminoles and their blackjack tables, the tribe casinos will be in the position to create new jobs under this compact.
Now the other group of opponents that are trying to save us from ourselves. Members of Florida Family Action and the Florida Baptist Convention, along with other opponents, want the entire deal scrapped, saying that offering Vegas-style games like blackjack will increase family problems through addictions and will increase crime.
But what they’re forgetting is that Florida is at odds with the Seminoles, a sovereign nation. And they can’t be at odds forever. The battle over the Seminoles exclusivity to blackjack has to end because Florida can’t be at odds with a sovereign nation within its borders.
There is also Florida’s history of gambling to consider. The state has had dog and horse tracks for decades. Floridians have been gambling for decades. They want to gamble and forcing them to outside of the state will mean a loss of income for Florida.
It seems that these morally opposed groups feel that the only way to gamble is often and with large sums of money. Apparently they haven’t heard of playing as a form of entertainment or of low-stakes games.
And what about the much needed money for the state? Are Florida’s children supposed to suffer because a handful of groups want to tell us what is good for us?
But the opponents to the Seminoles having exclusivity to blackjack will have to come to terms with it because it seems this compact is going to go through and be signed. It appears that Florida knows its children need their education.