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Florida begins to consider the gambling future of the Seminole Compact

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Posted on January 13, 2014 by Tom Jones

The state of Florida has a difficult relationship with the gambling industry and the Seminole Indians. The tribe made a deal with ex-governor Charlie Crist back in 2010. The deal lasted for five years and gave Seminoles exclusive rights to games such as blackjack and baccarat.

In the four years since the contract was signed, a lot has changed for the gaming industry across the United States. Dozens of states have gone to full-scale casino resorts in an attempt to boost revenues, and Florida lawmakers are now considering opening their borders to some of the biggest names in the industry.

In recent years, lawmakers have heard proposals from Genting, Las Vegas Sands and Wynn to bring Vegas-style gambling to the Sunshine State. However, never had any of the proposals been taken seriously in the Seminol deal.

The legislative session starting in March is supposed to be a different story. Lawmakers are now only one year from the Seminole contract expiration date and have much more freedom to change the current landscape of the gaming industry. One of the tasks of the legislator of this session will be to decide whether to continue the 2015 agreement signed with Seminoles or allow other companies to enter the lucrative market.

Florida is considered a prime target for gaming companies, with millions of retirees calling home in Florida, while the state also offers a fashionable audience in South Beach where Genting bought the previous Miami Herald Building.

Lawmakers have yet to say what plans they have for expansion or the Seminole Pact, and Governor Rick Scott has not reached out either.

"With the 2015 gaming kit expiring, we will be taking the time to negotiate the best solution for Florida," said Meliisa Sellers, governor's communications department.

For their part, the Seminoles were satisfied with the contract and expressed their willingness to extend the contract beyond the 2015 expiry date.

"The tribe wants to maintain this steady, steady course through 2015 and beyond," said Seminole spokesman Gary Bitner.

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