Feds approve Indian gambling agreement with state
Published: Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 8:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at 8:12 p.m.
Federal authorities approved an agreement between Gov. Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe that allows expanded gambling at the tribe's casinos in exchange for payments to the state, officials said Wednesday.
Attorney General Bill McCollum and the governor's office said the U.S. Department of the Interior on Monday approved the compact Crist signed with the tribe. It now has to be published in the Federal Register to take effect. It was not immediately clear when that would happen, and a spokeswoman for the department's Bureau of Indian Affairs didn't return a call seeking comment.
McCollum said he is asking a federal judge to quickly hold a hearing on a lawsuit he filed last month to keep the agreement from going into effect until the Florida Supreme Court decides whether Crist was authorized to sign the compact without legislative approval.
The agreement allows Las Vegas style slots and card games like blackjack and baccarat at the Seminole's seven casinos. The state would get $50 million immediately and $100 million guaranteed in the first year. In the second year, the state is guaranteed $125 million and at least $150 million in the third year. Following that, the amount depends on revenues — but everyone involved in the negotiations said it will quickly add up to billions.
Without the compact, the tribe would have at least been able to install Las Vegas style slots without paying any money to the state because the Florida approved slots at Broward County jai-alai frontons and horse and dog tracks.
Crist signed the compact in November. House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt are challenging Crist's authority to enter into the agreement on his own and the Supreme Court plans a hearing on the case Jan. 30.
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