Casino News

Florida Bets on Seminoles to Enhance State’s Budget

Florida and the Seminole tribe agreed to shake hands on a gambling agreement, under which only the tribal-owned casinos are allowed to offer banked games. In exchange, the government expects to reap higher revenues in order to boost the state’s budget.

On Tuesday, 15th August, state’s specialists outlined a realistic perspective on the amount of money, which the local government may add to the treasury thanks to the gambling deal with the state’s Seminole tribe. It was reported that the forecast made by the officials will be taken into account by the lawmakers, when they start to work on the new budget package for the next fiscal year.

The economists expect that the gambling agreement will generate up to $1.33 billion more in tax revenue for the fiscal year 2017-18, which is to end in June next year. It was also estimated that for the next fiscal year 2018-19, the period which will be covered by the lawmakers during the budget talks in January coming year, the revenues will jump with another $1.28 billion.

The agreement between the state and the Seminoles, who operate the state’s land-based casinos, resulted in the increase of the revenues. Under the deal, Florida grants to the Seminoles the “exclusive” right to offer house-banked card games.

The deal expands the Seminoles monopoly over banked card games up to 2030. Over that period, the government is obliged to weed out the pari-mutuels operating banked card games that violate the tribe’s rights. In exchange, the tribe is to pay a yearly fee of $1 billion, in addition to the gaming revenues, which are also expected to increase.

Despite the positive news, the economists warned that the lawmakers should keep in mind that the figures can fluctuate, as these can change under the influence of various circumstances. They also referred to the expected revenue increase as “one-time funding”. In January 2018, just before the lawmakers start to work on the budget package, the economists will estimate the situation once again, providing another revenue forecast in accordance with the current situation.

Speaking of the revenue forecast, Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart explained that Florida enjoys a relatively stable budget, as the officials are always eyeing different fresh sources of revenues in order to boost the economy. He added that the lawmakers create a reasonable budget package, without any excessive expenditures.

In 2010, the tribe signed a gambling deal with the state, under which the tribe was guaranteed a 20-year-long monopoly on slot machines and a 5-year-long monopoly on blackjack. But before the end of the deal, the state’s gambling regulatory body violated the tribe’s rights by allowing various non-tribal operators to offer house-banked games. This fired up the Seminoles, bringing the case to the court. The court ruled out in favor of the Seminoles, extending the monopoly on blackjack up to 2030. Currently, it seems that the feud between the two parties is over and they finally reached a decision, which matches the interests of both the state and the tribe.