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Seminole Details Coming to Light, Signed Deal Expected Monday

A gaming deal that would include more card games for the Seminole Tribe of Florida and a little more flexibility for pari-mutuels is in the works and will likely be signed by the parties on Monday.

The Seminole tribal council was slated to meet Friday to sign off on a new compact with the governor’s office that the lead House negotiator said could be amendable to his chamber, which earlier this year forced the Senate to accept a more conservative agreement.

“Overall, I’m optimistic that we we’ll be able to make this deal happen,” Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, told the News Service Friday. “At this point, everyone is working toward that goal.”

Compared to the original proposal crafted by lawmakers earlier this year, the new agreement would allow the tribe to offer black jack and baccarat at more venues. The deal would also allow the tribe to keep card games already being played at its Immokalee casino.

GAMES: The proposal would allow the tribe to operate card games at its two Hard Rock Cafes in Tampa and Hollywood and at its casino in Broward. The proposal would also allow the tribe to keep card games that are already being offered at its Immokalee facility and add the games to Brighton and Big Cypress casinos.

Galvano said Friday that lawmakers would likely be willing to allow card games to remain at Immokalee, but are much less likely to approve card games at Brighton and Big Cypress.

MINIMUM PAYMENTS: The state wants the tribe to guarantee at least $150 million a year for the right to run Class III slot machines at all its casinos and banked card games at a more limited number of venues. The tribe, Galvano said, wants the minimum threshold to be closer to $100 million a year:

PAYMENTS: The tribe and governor’s office have agreed to a payment schedule in which the tribe would pay $12.5 million a month for two years. If casino revenues reach $2 billion, the tribe will pay 10 percent to the state. The scale increases incrementally, with the tribe paying 25 percent of revenues in excess of $4 billion. Lawmakers want to limit the $12.5 million payments to a year then ratchet up payments more quickly to 12.5 percent after $2 billion.

EXCLUSIVITY: The tribe wants to maintain exclusivity outside of Miami Dade and Broward County. Galvano said the lawmakers want to limit that tribe’s exclusivity to 100 miles.

Those close to the negotiations said Friday that both sides were closing in on a deal, but officials in the governor’s office said no announcement of an agreement was expected Friday night.

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