Gov. Rick Scott announced late Monday a sweeping agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would bring in $3 billion to the state and also allow an expansion of gambling in South Florida.
In a letter to legislative leaders, Scott said the agreement would create a "stable and predictable gaming environment" for Florida.
"I have executed this compact after months of collaboration, negotiation and discussion," Scott said. "This compact represents an unprecedented level of cooperation between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, including the largest revenue share guarantee in history at $3 billion, which is three times the prior compact guarantee of $1 billion."
The $3 billion the tribe would kick in would be spread over a seven-year period starting in 2017. From here the new compact goes to the Legislature for ratification.
What the tribe gets: Seminoles can keep card games such as blackjack at all their casinos, including the Seminole Hard Rocks in Tampa and Hollywood. They can also add roulette and craps.
Elsewhere: The deal OKs slot machines at the Palm Beach Kennel Club. It allows room for another casino in Miami-Dade; existing tracks in Broward and Miami-Dade can eventually add blackjack tables.
The legal agreement, called a compact, first was crafted in 2010. It gave the Seminoles the exclusive right to operate slot machines at its five casinos outside of Miami-Dade and Broward in exchange for a share of its revenues to go to the state -- at least $234 million a year. The tribe also won exclusive rights to blackjack, chemin de fer and baccarat at the Tampa and Hollywood Hard Rocks, plus three other casinos. That provision expired July 31.
The tribe had a 90-day grace period to reach a new deal with the state or shut the games down. Despite efforts to reach a deal, nothing was settled and the grace period simply ended, and both sides filed lawsuits in federal court.
The Legislature is likely to be torn. The House wants a tight rein kept on gaming expansion; the Senate wants decisions for expansion determined locally. But lawmakers say Scott kept them in the picture during his negotiations with the tribe.
In his letter to the legislative leaders, Scott said, "This agreement would not have been possible without the leadership of Sen. Rob Bradley and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in the state's negotiation."
Bradley told reporters, "I think we have made significant progress with the tribe. We have a product that is ready for consideration" He called it "a good, fair deal for the taxpayers."
Reach Nancy Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith