The Seminole Tribe reached an agreement April 18 with Governor Rick Scott to continue making revenue sharing payments to the state through May 2019. The payments are mandated by the 2010 compact between the Tribe and the state; the Tribe has been paying about $300 million per year into the general revenue fund.
The agreement extends the forbearance period outlined in the July 2017 settlement of the Tribe’s successful lawsuit against the state and the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, which was set to expire in May 2018. The agreement with Gov. Scott extends the payments through the next legislative session.
In exchange for the agreement, the Tribe will continue to reap the benefits of the compact which include exclusive state-wide rights to blackjack and allow it to provide the only slot machines outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
“The Tribe is committed to its long-term compact with the State of Florida and intends to continue making revenue sharing payments as spelled out in the agreement,” Chairman Marcellus W. Osceola said in a press release. “The gaming compact, which runs through the year 2030, is good for the people of Florida and good for the members of the Seminole Tribe. The Tribe is investing more than $2.4 billion to expand its Seminole Hard Rock Casinos in Tampa and Hollywood and is hiring thousands of Floridians to fill jobs in construction and as permanent team members.”
“Today, I am proud to announce that the State of Florida has reached an agreement with the Seminole Tribe which ensures the Tribe’s current commitment remains intact,” Governor Scott said in the same press release. “Since I took office, the Seminole Compact has generated more than $1.75 billion which has helped our state make historic investments in things like Florida’s education and environment. With today’s agreement, revenue sharing payments from the Tribe will carry on as the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) continues its work of aggressively following and enforcing Florida’s strict gaming laws and rules.”
Despite the agreement, state lawmakers decided not to convene a special session to write a gambling bill. The leaders of the House and Senate, motivated by a proposed constitutional amendment slated to be on the November ballot that could take the power to approve any future expansion of gaming away from the Legislature and put it in the hands of voters, opted to leave it to the public.