Florida Gambling Expansion Negotiations Underway, House Prepared to Compromise

Posted on: April 26, 2017, 03:00h. 

Last updated on: April 26, 2017, 01:00h.

Florida has been ranked 41st out of 50 in a new survey on the America’s most “gambling addicted” states, making it one of the “least addicted” in the country.

Florida House prepared to compromise on gambling expansion
Florida wants a new compact with the Seminoles, operators of Florida’s Hard Rock casinos, preferably one worth $3 billion, and it looks like the gambling opposed House may be prepared to make some compromises to get there. (Image: Seminole Hard Rock Tampa)

This was music to the ears of the Orlando Sentinel this week, which has at last found a reason to feel positive about being Floridian, while bemoaning that “every day there’s another Florida headline that makes its residents wince in shame.”

The survey, which is conducted annually by the credit score website WalletHub, also ranked Florida as 31st most “gambling friendly” state in the country.

By this it means levels of proliferation of gambling, which are measured by opportunities to gambling per capita.

It’s topical because Florida’s legislature is currently engaged in a stand-off between the Senate, which believes there should be more opportunities to gamble per capita, and the House, which believes that there are quite enough already.

Negotiations Commence

Negotiators from both chambers met Wednesday to try to thrash out a compromise on their diametrically opposed positions before the May 5 deadline. Both bills seek to bring an end to protracted compact negotiations between the state and the Seminole tribe, which owns the Hard Rock Resort brand and operates seven casinos in Florida.

The House has proposed offering the tribe nothing new in exchange for payments to the state totaling $3 billion over the next seven years. The Senate bill is a wide-ranging gambling expansion package that would charge the Seminoles the same fee over the same timeline but for the right to offer craps and roulette, as well as the blackjack games permitted under the terms of the previous compact.

Meanwhile, the right to offer blackjack would expand to parimutuel venues, while slots would be permitted in certain states.

Huge House Compromise

But it seems that the House was the first to blink on Wednesday, setting forth several compromise proposals, including one that would allow one new casino in Miami-Dade and grant the Seminoles additional exclusivity on craps and roulette at their seven existing casinos..

Also on the table was a proposal that would allow a cut in the slot machine tax for Seminoles and pari-mutuels if they, in turn, agree to cut the number of slot machines.

These are some pretty big concessions, considering that the House originally demanded no gambling expansion whatsoever, and it may be a sign that we could see Florida climbing up WalletHub’s “gambling friendly” rankings in years to come.