Florida’s Pari-Mutuels Searching For Expanded Casino Gambling

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South Florida pari-mutuels thought they had a leg up on the competition when they combined horse racing with casino gambling. Now, they are finding they need more options to compete with the Seminole Indians.

In order to achieve that goal, Isle Casino and Racing at Pompano Park and Mardi Gras Gaming are joining forces to try and lobby lawmakers. Their main point to these lawmakers is the extra $495 million in revenue that can be generated.

The pari-mutuels believe that by adding blackjack and baccarat to their facilities that they can up the states cut of the revenues by almost $500 million. That will be an attractive figure to lawmakers desperate to fix a failing budget.

“These lawmakers have their jobs on the line with how they handle the current economy. It is going to be really difficult to turn down that kind of money and then look the people they represent in the eye,” said Paul Trubin.

The legislators may be more inclined to give the pari-mutuels what they want to help their bargaining power with the Seminole Indians. A compact has already been signed by Governor Charlie Crist to allow the Seminoles blackjack and baccarat in exchange for a percentage of the revenue the Seminoles generate.

The Legislature, however, nixed that deal and with the economy worsening, they are under stress to quickly renegotiate that compact. The Seminoles, meanwhile, have continued to operate their table games despite being told what they are doing is illegal.

While the negotiations continue, the Seminoles are racking up millions of dollars in revenue that the state will get none of. The pari-mutuels believe that they can recover some of that money for the state if they are put on equal ground with the Seminoles.

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