Crist Loses Appeal for Rehearing of Seminole Casino Compact
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA --
Republican Governor Charlie Crist of Florida did the best he could when taking office, dealing with an urgent problem left by his predecessor in a way that salvaged major revenues for the state, but the state Supreme Court refuses to let his last-minute solution stand.
Crist inherited a ticking bomb of a gambling situation, as negotiations betwen the state and the Seminole Tribe had reached a standstill under Jeb Bush. By federal law, once Class III Vegas-style slots were allowed by ballot vote at certain South Florida racinos, the Seminoles were entitled to bring the same version of slots onto their reservation casinos.
The federal government protocol required that states and tribes attempt to reach a compact regarding gambling issues, but in case of failure to negotiate in good faith, a tribe would be allowed to unilaterally install any form of gaming allowed within state borders.
With only days to act, Crist granted the Seminoles the right to host Class III slots, and extended the privilege to include exclusive rights to table games. But in return Crist got the tribe to commit at least $100 million a year to Florida state coffers, when the Seminoles could insist on the slots alone and not pay the state a dime.
Unfortunately, egos in the Florida legislature were injured, and a case was brought before the courts that Crist had exceeded his authority. The state Supreme Court agreed, striking down the compact.
Meanwhile, the Seminoles say the compact was registered with the federal government, and refuse to acknowledge any state jurisdiction in the matter. Blackjack and Vegas slots continue to be played at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.
This week, the Supreme Court reaffirmed its previous decision, refusing Crist the right to reargue his case. Now Florida must wait to see if any of the riches promised will ever lift education in the state.
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