All around the country, Indian gaming has been steadily gaining momentum and fostering large paydays for tribal members. Florida is no exception to this pattern.
We have two tribes that operate gaming in Miami-Dade and Broward County. The Miccosukee tribe has a hotel, golf course, and slot casino operation out in western Dade County. The Seminole tribe operates many gaming venues, such as the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, which is the best known.
The Miccosukee tribe operates without a compact with the State of Florida and pays no taxes. The Seminole tribe has a compact with the State of Florida that pays in excess of $200 million into the state’s tax coffers. The Seminole compact has two major parts to it. One deals primarily with the game of blackjack, granting an exclusive state wide on this and like kind games. The other portion of the compact gives the Seminole tribe exclusivity on a specific class of slot machines outside of both counties. The two elements of the compact have terms of five and 20 years respectively. With the blackjack portion of the compact set to expire in 2014, the governor and legislature both have concerns that the tax revenues to the state from gaming interests do not contract.
The simple question they face is whether to renew the blackjack portion of the existing compact or to risk losing the revenue and hopefully broker a better deal with the collection of pari-mutuel facilities statewide.
This could potentially lead to more revenue and significant job creation around the state. Is a tribe in the hand worth a dozen pari-mutuels in the bush?