Feds approve Florida gambling agreement

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The agreement Gov. Charlie Grist signed with the Seminole Tribe in Florida allowing expanded gambling and more poker tournaments at the tribe's casinos has been approved by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

According to an Associated Press story today, federal authorities approved the agreement Monday, and now it has to be published in the Federal Register to take effect.

The agreement allows Las Vegas-style slot machines and card games such as blackjack and baccarat at the Seminole's seven casinos in Florida. In addition to that, six No-Limit poker games will be allowed each year, with 70% of the revenue going to charity.

In exchange for allowing the expanded gambling, the state will get $50 million immediately and $100 million guaranteed in the first year after the agreement is implemented.

In the second year after the agreement, the state is guaranteed $125 million and at least $150 million in the third year. After that, the amount will depend on revenues.

However, the agreement is being challenged by Florida lawmakers who say the governor doesn't have the power to enter into such agreements with the tribe.

House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt are saying Gov. Crist didn't have the authority to enter into the agreement on his own, and the Florida Supreme Court plans a hearing on the case Jan. 30.

Attorney General Bill McCollum told the Associated Press that he is asking a federal judge to quickly hold a hearing on the lawsuit to keep the agreement from going into effect until the Florida Supreme Court decides whether Crist could sign the compact without legislative approval.

Related Article: New Florida Deal Allows Limited Poker Tournaments

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