Monday, June 15, 2009

Seminole Indian Reservations Get More Gambling Games

Governor Signs Gambling Bill

CLEWISTON, FL. -- Governor Charlie Crist has signed Florida Senate Bill 788, relating to gaming, which outlines the Legislature�s parameters for a 15-year compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that will maximize funding for K-12 public schools. Addditional gambling games will be allowed at Seminole Reservations including Glades county at Brighton, Big Cypress in Hendry county, and the Immokalee Casino in Collier county.

The legislation authorizes the Governor to negotiate a compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida by August 31, 2009.  In exchange for significant sharing of profits, the agreement will give the tribe the right to operate certain games in the seven facilities on tribal lands. The Legislature must ratify the agreement, which will create revenue for the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund.

The compact will guarantee a minimum payment of $150 million annually under the parameters outlined in the legislation. In addition, the Tribe is required to make revenue sharing payments to the State of Florida based on the following annual amounts:

12 percent of profits up to $2.5 billion.
15 percent of profits between $2.5 billion and $3 billion.
20 percent of profits between $3 billion and $4 billion.
22.5 percent of profits between $4 billion and 4.5 billion.
25 percent of any profits above $4.5 billion.

The agreement also requires the Seminole Tribe of Florida to develop a compulsive gambling prevention program; submit records to an independent annual financial audit; and maintain a legal process for compensating individuals for injuries caused to patrons.  The tribe will also limit admission to patrons age 21 and older. 

Indian gaming casinos on Indian reservations fall under federal jurisdiction.  The compact is required for the Seminole Tribe to offer �Class III gaming,� which includes including baccarat, chemin de fer, and blackjack. Class III games will be limited to tribal reservations only.  Governor Crist commented that the federal government is likely to allow the tribe to operate Class III gaming, even if the state and tribe do not come to an agreement for profit sharing or oversight.

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