MANATEE — State Rep. Bill Galvano, chair of a House committee that last spring helped to craft a new $6.8 billion gaming measure for the state, will recommend against its ratification, he said today.
The Florida Legislature passed a gambling measure last spring with the understanding that negotiations over the summer between Gov. Charlie Crist and the Seminole Tribe of Florida would respect its parameters limiting gambling.
But the terms of the agreement, or compact, which called for the tribe to pay the state a percentage of its earnings projected at $6.8 billion over 20 years, now far exceed what legislators had contemplated, Galvano said.
He opposes legislative ratification necessary for the compact to take effect, he said.
“My recommendation is we do not accept the compact as proposed by the tribe and the governor,” said Galvano, R-Bradenton.
A tribe spokesman, Gary Bitner, said he was checking with leaders of the tribe, but suspected they would prefer to refer requests for comments to the governor’s office, adding, “I’ll let you know if they tell me differently.”
The governor’s office did not respond this morning to calls for comment.
“By and large, you’re talking about making Florida a full-on gaming state, and at the same time, giving an absolute monopoly to the Seminole Tribe in exchange for an amount of money that is maybe one-tenth of what could be earned if we didn’t give that full monopoly,” Galvano said.
“What the tribe is proposing is to go beyond the slots, include blackjack and baccarat at all seven facilities, and to limit any expansion by anyone other than the Seminole tribe at all levels,” Galvano said.
Pari-mutuel businesses, such as the Sarasota Kennel Club and other dog and horse tracks, would slowly die, and casinos would “cannibalize” other traditional destinations, such as Walt Disney World, Galvano predicted.
The effect would be to change the way tourists are entertained in the state, he said.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7031 or at firstname.lastname@example.org