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Southwest Florida Could Be Sticking Point In State Gambling Deal

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Photo: Nick Sortal

Florida has long been considered two distinct states: The more rural, conservative north, and the urban South Florida, anchored by Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

The three counties containing those cities total almost 6 million of the state’s 20 million population, and legislative negotiations of almost any kind are a balance between north and south.

But when it comes to the current state of gambling — and finding a resolution – the sticking point is more a matter of east and west.

State Senator Bill Galvano, long considered the legislative expert when it comes to working out a solution that is fair to all gambling parties, filed his 112-page bill last week. The measure includes just enough to placate everyone, but they all have to give up something, too.

The Seminoles, who in 2010 paid $1 billion for five years of exclusive rights to blackjack and other table games, would leave the door open to South Florida pari-mutuels adding low-stakes blackjack. But they would add craps and roulette, providing them with enough market exclusivity to make a compact legal. (The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1989 states that tribes can pay states only if they have negotiated something above and beyond the usual and prevailing laws in a state.)

Pari-mutuels and others in South Florida would see three more competitors, with one new casino coming to Broward County (Fort Lauderdale) and two to Miami-Dade. So the pie would be sliced into even smaller pieces.

And, statewide, counties that have passed referendums to allow slots at their pari-mutuels could add them.

That’s all well and good, but the difficult negotiation will be in greater Naples, a relaxed area in Southwest Florida near the Gulf of Mexico. Currently, the lone venue for slots and blackjack is operated by the Seminoles in the town of Immokalee, a ramshackle town of about 25,000 – about one-third of whom are below the poverty line. Driving to Seminole Immokalee takes about 30 minutes from the nearest interstate, but people do it, because it’s the only casino in the area.

That is, unless Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Racing and Poker – which would be eligible for slots because Collier County residents approved a referendum – is allowed to expand. The track is only 2  miles from the heavily traveled Interstate 75.

And that could put a huge dent into the revenues of the Immokalee casino.

That’s a deal-breaker for the Seminoles, who have invested in a hotel on the Immokalee property. The casino is responsible for only about 7 percent of the tribe’s $2.2 billion annual revenue, but while the Seminoles’ other casinos would take a small hit because of increased competition, their locational disadvantage here is immense.

Senator Galvano has adroitly found a way to make the bill palatable to conservative legislators – dormant permits must be killed off, which allows those against gambling expansion at least the appearance of some contraction in the state – and there’s optimism in Tallahassee because the bill is on the table in plenty of time, well before the house and senate convene. That said, these are going to be tough negotiations, and all parties involved are willing to dig in their heels and dare the other side to blink.

Legislators, casino operators, and pundits have all compared the complicated Florida gambling landscape to a Rubik’s cube. If that’s true, we could have a scenario where all the squares line up — except the southwest corner.

Nick Sortal, SouthFloridaGambling.com, posted on SouthFloridaReporter.com, Jan. 21, 2017

Nick Sortal is semi-retired after 35 years as a newspaper writer and editor, with 30 of those years dedicated to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. He spent the majority of his career as a community news writer and editor, delving into the issues and topics most newsworthy to local residents. He has a reputation for being fair – weighing every sides of an issue – and checked and re-checked information almost to the point of being annoying

2 COMMENTS

  1. “Southwest Florida Could Be Sticking Point In State Gambling Deal”

    By Nick Sortal, SouthFloridaGambling.com; Jan 21, 2017; SOUTH
    FLORDIA REPORTER

    is an astonishing piece of a deplorable lack of journalist curiosity regarding U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” since The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924! That single Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, made moot all previous common law-state and federal-including Presidential Executive Orders, Commerce Clause and Treaty Clause alleged Indian Treaties (if any U.S. Senate confirmed Indian treaties actually existed pre-1924 Citizenship) regarding U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” so often touted by politicians and Indian advocates as being legitimate law.

    And yet, Florida politicians and MSM continue to perpetuate willful blindness to the Constitutional absurdity that Congress, Presidents/Governors, Initiatives and Referendums can make
    distinguishable the metes and boundaries of a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” post citizenship.

    The Constitution makes for no provisions for:

    1. Indian sovereign nations. None of the asserted tribes possess any of the attributes of being a ‘sovereign nation:’
    a. No Constitution recognition
    b. No international recognition
    c. No fixed borders
    d. No military
    e. No currency
    f. No postal system
    g. No passports

    2. Treaties with its own constituency

    3. Indian reservations whereby a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” reside exclusively and to the exclusion of all others, on land-with rare exception-that is owned by the People of the United States according to federal documents readily available on-line that notes rights of ‘occupancy and use’ by these distinguished U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” only with the land owned by the People of the United States.

    4. Recognition of ‘Indian citizenship’ asserted by various tribes. There is no international recognition of “Indian citizenship” as there is no ‘nation’ from which citizenship is derived.

    A simple question for Florida politicians and MSM to answer…a question so simple, it is hard:

    “Where is the proclamation ratified by 1/3rd of the voters of the
    United States that amends the Constitution to make the health, welfare, safety and benefits of a select group of U.S./State citizens distinguishable because of their “Indian ancestry/race?”

  2. “Southwest Florida Could Be Sticking Point In State Gambling Deal

    By Nick Sortal, SouthFloridaGambling.com
    – Jan 21, 2017”

    is an astonishing piece of a deplorable lack of journalist curiosity regarding U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” since The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924! That single Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, made moot all previous common law-state and
    federal-including Presidential Executive Orders, Commerce Clause and Treaty Clause alleged Indian Treaties (if any U.S. Senate confirmed Indian treaties actually existed pre-1924 Citizenship) regarding U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” so often touted by politicians and Indian advocates as being legitimate law.

    And yet, MSM continue to perpetuate willful blindness to the Constitutional absurdity that Congress, Presidents/Governors, Initiatives and Referendums can make distinguishable the metes and boundaries of a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” post citizenship.

    The Constitution makes for no provisions for:

    1. Indian sovereign nations. None of the asserted tribes possess any of the attributes of being a ‘sovereign nation:’
    a. No Constitution recognition
    b. No international recognition
    c. No fixed borders
    d. No military
    e. No currency
    f. No postal system
    g. No passports

    2. Treaties with its own constituency

    3. Indian reservations whereby a select group of U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” reside exclusively and to the exclusion of all others, on land-with rare exception-that is owned by the People of the United States according to federal documents readily available on-line that notes rights of ‘occupancy and use’ by these distinguished U.S./State citizens with “Indian ancestry/race” only with the land owned by the People of the United States.

    4. Recognition of ‘Indian citizenship’ asserted by various tribes. There is no international recognition of “Indian citizenship” as there is no ‘nation’ from which citizenship is derived.

    A simple question for Florida politicians and MSM to answer…a question so simple, it is hard:

    “Where is the proclamation ratified by 1/3rd of the voters of the
    United States that amends the Constitution to make the health, welfare, safety and benefits of a select group of U.S./State citizens distinguishable because of their “Indian ancestry/race?”

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