A Billion-Dollar Treaty

The Seminole tribe isn't playing about getting more gambling games and has offered $1 billion for legislators' votes

The Seminole tribe is willing to bet state legislators will take the lure of a $600 million upfront payment to solve the state's financial crisis.

All legislators have to do is OK a deal that would allow black jack and other table games not allowed at other casinos.

The proposal was announced Wednesday afternoon by Gov. Charlie Crist, who is desperate to get a deal done so he doesn't have to raise taxes to get more money to pay for a ballooning budget. The money would turn out to be a piece of a two-part loan, which totals about $1.1 billion.

Over 25 years, the Seminole tribe would pay $2.5 billion.

But some leaders are calling the pact a pig with $600 million lipstick. No matter how you slice it, it's ugly.

"Are we for sale? Do we just sell out for money because it's a tough budget year?" said Rep. Bill Galvano, who has been a lead negotiator for the House.

The Senate's negotiator Dennis Jones also called it a "bad deal."

Now is that just jealousy because Crist could get something done with the Seminoles without their help, or would the state really be short changing itself?

Other casinos, which have struggled to compete with Indian gaming, are crying the proposed deal would crush their businesses.

The real question mark in the deal is a clause that gives the Seminoles a break from paying the state in 2012, the same year federal stimulus money dries up.

Crist is on a state-wide tour trying to get Floridians on board and even peddled his new pact to elementary school students, who won't be allowed in the casinos until the state is in deep debt some 10 years from now.

He also pleaded with legislators that if they won't approve the deal to line the Seminole's pockets then "Do it for the children."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us