State Politics

Galvano, Crist talk gambling deal

MANATEE — Gov. Charlie Crist met Thursday with Rep. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, and Jim Allen, representing The Seminole Tribe of Florida, in an effort to reach an agreement on new gambling legislation.

“We had a positive conversation about trying to figure out where we can find common ground on the compact issue,” Galvano said.

“No major decisions were made. We’ll continue the dialogue so we can move forward,” said the chairman of the House Select Committee on Seminole Indian Compact Review, charged with reviewing an agreement the governor and The Tribe signed in 2007. The agreement was later invalidated by the courts.

Galvano said he reiterated the position of House members, who have proposed more conservative gambling terms than either the state Senate or the governor’s original compact.

“We will take a hard look at their latest proposal. They will look at what I told them about my members,” said Galvano. “We’re just having a dialogue.”

With budget negotiators for House and Senate awaiting a decision on the gambling issue, time is running out on the session scheduled to adjourn May 1.

Asked if he thought the parties could reach a compromise, Galvano said, “I think we’ll eventually reach some agreement, but so much is going on in the session, there’s a lot in play.”

“It’s still a possibility,” he added.

A call seeking comment from Jim Allen, representing the Tribe, was not immediately returned.

Wednesday, the governor and The Seminole Tribe said On Wednesday, the governor and the Seminole Tribe said they hoped $600 million in upfront money would inspire a new look at the gambling deal signed in 2007. they hoped $600 million in upfront money would inspire a new look at the gambling deal signed in 2007.

As part of a revised deal, the tribe would immediately give the state the money the first year and up to $500 million in the second. The state would get no money in the third year and only a small amount the fourth year. After that, the Tribe would begin giving the state a percentage of its profits from slot machines and card games the state would authorize.

“We skip one year of sharing with our friends, the Seminoles, and thereafter, we share with them the next 25,” said Crist, who wants the money for education.

The deal is similar to the compact Crist signed in 2007, allowing the tribe to install slot machines and operate card games such as blackjack and baccarat.

The Supreme Court later ruled he lacked the authority to sign the compact, but the Tribe still operates the games. After the first four years of the deal, the Tribe would give the state 10 percent of its first $2 billion in profits from new games and higher percentages of profits above that amount, up to 25 percent of profits above $4.5 billion.

Still, the lure of more money did not seem to impress Galvano.

“The issue we have is that front-loading the dollars doesn’t necessarily solve the long-term issues,” explained Galvano.

“The negative impacts on other industries in Florida (could) potentially exacerbate the budget problems we’ll have when the stimulus (money from the federal government) runs out in a couple years,” Galvano said.

Crist urged lawmakers to consider the deal, and state Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, called it “a godsend” that could help break the stalemate between the House and Senate.

Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at (941) 708-7908 or at skennedy@bradenton.com.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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