Florida Indian gaming deal takes effect

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The Seminole Tribe can begin expanding gambling in its casinos after federal approval of the agreement was officially published in the Federal Register on Monday.

The agreement, made between tribe leaders and Florida Governor Charlie Crist, allows Las Vegas-style slot machines and card games at the Seminole's seven casinos in Florida. The agreement also allows for six No-Limit poker games to be hosted each year with 70% of the revenue going to charity.

Florida will receive $50 million up-front for allowing the expansion and $100 million guaranteed in the first year after the agreement is implemented. In the second year, the state is guaranteed $125 billion and at least $150 million in the third year.

After the third year, the amount the state receives will depend on revenues from the casinos.

Last week the U.S. Department of Interior approved the agreement and it became official on Monday despite a lawsuit pending in Florida that alleges the governor doesn't have the power to enter into such an agreement without legislative approval.

House Speaker Marco Rubio and Senate President Ken Pruitt filed the suit in Florida and the Florida Supreme Court plans a hearing on the case Jan. 30.

Before the agreement was officially approved Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum had asked a federal judge to quickly hold a hearing on the lawsuit to keep the agreement from going into effect until the Florida Supreme Court had a chance to decide the case.

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