TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami) – Florida lawmakers are on their way home after approving a massive, 30-year gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
The approval came despite concerns about its length and the payout.READ MORE: Fifth Straight Day Of Cancellations & Delays For Frustrated Spirit Airlines Passengers
Democrats tried unsuccessfully to shorten the 30-year deal to 15 or 20.
“It’s too long,” said Rep. Joe Geller, D- Broward.
And several argued the Seminoles were getting off cheap with a guaranteed $2.5 billion payout for the first five years.
“This deal feels like we came to the table with the Seminoles from a position of desperation,” said Rep. Omari Hardy, D-Palm Beach.
The deal gives the Seminole Tribe exclusive rights to sports betting, which is illegal in Florida.
“Now we’re having a conversation about servers,” said Rep. Michael Grieco, D-Miami Beach.
Some argued that having the servers on Indian land doesn’t circumvent a requirement for voter approval.READ MORE: Gov. Ron DeSantis Objects To COVID Vaccine Mandates At Hospitals
“It is an expansion of gaming,” Grieco said.
Even supporters expect legal challenges.
“If the sports betting goes away, the compact still goes forward. We still get every dollar,” said Rep. Randy Fine, R-Brevard.
The vote wasn’t even close, with 97 yeas to 17 nays.
Under this deal, it will be a lot harder for the Tribe to stop paying the state.
The Tribe stopped paying $350 million a year in 2019 after a judge ruled the state had violated the previous compact.
“In the old compact, what we did was there were rules in place that breached what our compact was. So that’s why we also set up a gaming commission to oversee the rules and set policy. And the gaming commission has to look at the confines of the compact, so they can’t set a policy that’s in conflict with the compact,” said Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast.
There’s no doubt the governor will sign the legislation, then send it to the secretary of the interior and Indian gaming commission. If approved, the money will again start to flow.MORE NEWS: Don’t Know How To Talk To Vaccine-Hesitant Friends & Family? Professor Shares Tips On Navigating Conversation
Federal regulators have 45 days from the date of receiving the gaming deal from the state to accept or reject it. Expect lawsuits to quickly follow if approved.