Legislators Agree on Gaming Expansion

Florida legislative negotiators battled it out for two day, but both sides have now agreed to expand gambling in the sunshine state. However, there are still some major hurdles ahead.

The House and Senate went eyeball to eyeball, and many insiders argue, the House blinked.

It had been opposed to allowing blackjack anywhere in Florida, but now, negotiators have agreed to allow not only blackjack, but also no-limit poker and baccarat at four of the Seminole tribe's casinos in Tampa and Broward county.

Three minor casinos in Southwest Florida would get only slots.

"There was some compromise along the way, but it's balanced, reasonable, and will accomplish what we were asked to accomplish by federal law, covered which is negotiate with the Seminole tribe to reach a revenue share agreement," said Representative Bill Galvano
from Bradenton, Florida.

Now, there's been a lot of talk about bringing the games to horse and dog tracks too. Under the deal, that wouldn't happen, but the tracks would pay less in taxes, and they'd have higher betting limits to help them compete with the tribe.

In all, revenue sharing on the games would add up to ate least $150 million dollars a year, paid directly to the state to help fund education.

"Anyway we can generate revenue to directly impact money going into education, I'm definitely going be an advocate of looking at it and seeing how we can generate those dollars for our children," said Representative Alan Williams of Tallahassee.

But for now, it's anyone's guess if the tribe will sign off. The full house also has to vote on it, if not Thursday, then Friday.

If the deal passes, it would be a victory for Governor Charlie Crist. He signed an expanded gambling compact with the Seminole tribe a year and a half ago only to see it invalidated by the state supreme court.

The justices ruled the compact couldn't become official unless the legislature signed off.


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