Florida Gov. Scott reaches deal with Seminole Tribe on gambling money

As legislative leaders hold behind-the-scenes talks about revamping the gambling industry, Gov. Rick Scott announced a deal Wednesday that will lead to the Seminole Tribe continuing to pay more than $300 million a year in casino money to the state.

The tribe would continue making the payments, which are rooted in a 2010 gambling agreement, through the 2019 legislative session. In exchange, the tribe would continue to have exclusive rights to offer games such as blackjack at its casinos and would continue to be the state’s only slot-machine operator outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

“Today, I am proud to announce that the state of Florida has reached an agreement with the Seminole Tribe which ensures the tribe’s current commitment remains intact,” Scott, who will leave office in January after eight years, said in a prepared statement. “Since I took office, the Seminole compact (the 2010 agreement) has generated more than $1.75 billion which has helped our state make historic investments in things like Florida’s education and environment.”

Wednesday’s announcement did little to scuttle negotiations between House and Senate leaders as they try to craft a sweeping gambling bill before the November election, when voters will decide whether to approve a constitutional amendment that would make it harder to expand gambling. The proposed amendment, if approved, would give voters control of future gambling expansions, something now largely controlled by the Legislature.