Editorial: Put the brakes on Seminole compact

"As the Legislature begins its budget-cutting special session this week, a seven-page ruling by the Florida Supreme Court handed down Sept. 27 should put the breaks on any prospective "compact" between the governor and the Seminoles permitting the tribe expanded gambling at its casinos in exchange for tax revenues to help balance the state's budget.

Last week on this page, I wrote extensively about the dangerous gambling expansion that our state is experiencing, and highlighted the case before the Florida Supreme Court, noting that Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature ought to be paying careful attention to this case. The fact that the Supreme Court has now ruled and allowed this case to continue should be a warning to our leaders in Tallahassee that a deal with the Seminoles or other expanded gambling is not how they ought to close the $1 billion shortfall in the state budget.

Various newspapers report the governor was continuing his negotiations with the Seminoles, with a prospective, tentative deadline to conclude those talks by Sept. 30. As we go to press Oct. 1, it is unknown where those talks stand. According to several early drafts of the compact, however, the governor is considering giving the Seminoles much more that just Las Vegas-style slot machines, which has caused Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, R-West Miami, and other leaders in the House to warn that they will oppose such an agreement. Although the governor had previously indicated he would seek approval by the Legislature of a prospective compact, more recently he has suggested he may proceed without its approval, possibly forcing the Legislature to take the matter to the courts to clarify its role.

The bottom line is that the slots amendment fraud case is months and probably years from being finally resolved. And in the midst of such legal uncertainty, the governor and Legislature should not be making public policy as if the slot machines amendment is without controversy—including finalizing a compact with the Seminoles and counting on tax revenues from such a compact."

Get the Story:
Editorial: A glimmer of hope (The Florida Baptist Witness 10/3