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Chairman, governor reach compact agreement

Chairman James E. Billie and Gov. Rick Scott signed a gaming compact Dec. 7 that will give the Tribe the exclusive right to operate blackjack and add craps and roulette at its seven Florida casinos.

In exchange, the Tribe will pay $3 billion to the state over a seven-year period beginning in 2017.

The compact must be ratified by the Florida Legislature. The 2016 session runs Jan. 12 through March 11.

Chairman Billie said in a statement that the compact will “serve Florida well for years to come.”

He said there is nothing more important than investing in Florida’s economy and continuing to grow the workforce. The agreement, he said, will save 3,500 jobs and allow the Tribe to create thousands more.

“The Seminole Tribe of Florida’s compact with the state has been one of ‘promises made and promises kept,’” Chairman Billie said.

The 20-year compact also allows for the addition of slot machines at one additional pari-mutuel facility in Palm Beach County and another in Miami-Dade, if approved by countywide vote. Also included is a provision for adding limited blackjack tables to existing pari-mutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, with voter approval.

In a letter to legislative leaders Dec. 7, Scott wrote the compact “represents an unprecedented level of cooperation between the state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe of Florida.”

Scott wrote that the compact will result in a more than $1.8 billion capital investment by the Tribe and more than 4,800 new direct and indirect jobs with an additional 14,500 direct and indirect construction jobs.

The previous agreement, signed by former Gov. Charlie Crist in 2010, gave the Tribe exclusive use of banked card games in five of its casinos in exchange for $1 billion to the state.

The new compact adds banked card games to the Brighton and Big Cypress casinos and bumps revenue sharing payments to $3 billion, “the largest revenue share guarantee in history,” Scott wrote.

“This was a Christmas present for the whole state,” President Mitchell Cypress said. “Everyone will make money; it’s a win-win situation.”

The compact will take effect if approved by both the House and the Senate.



Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at