Let the Games Begin

Legislators agree on a gaming pact that will mean riches for the Seminole Tribe, education and possibly big-money gamblers

A deal is all but done between the House and Senate that will make gambling even bigger business in Florida.

While financial terms have yet to be released, the framework for a gaming pact seems to be agreed upon by Senate and House leaders, who have been at odds over what extent the Seminole Tribe would be allowed to expand their gambling operation.

The Miami Herald is reporting Seminole casinos will be allowed to have slot machines at all their casinos and the exclusive rights to banked card games at its Hard Rock casinos in Broward and Hillsborough counties.

The deal now awaits Seminole approval.

Making the deal even sweeter for local gamblers is the provision that allows for the Hialeah race track to reopen with card games and quarter horse racing with an eye to adding slot machines within the next two years.

The taxed proceeds would go toward education, a staple of Gov. Charlie Crist's deal with the Seminole Tribe.

"This is a victory for the children of Florida and education,'' Crist said. "And I couldn't be more pleased.''

For months, the House and Senate have been seemingly miles apart on allowing the Seminoles to expand. Increasing tensions was Crist, who signed his own deal with the tribe to have slots and blackjack, which the state Supreme Court says the Seminoles are operating illegally.

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