New Florida deal allows limited poker tournaments

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Seminole Tribe casinos in Florida will be allowed to expand operation after Governor Charlie Crist and Tribal Chairman Mitchell Cypress signed a gambling "compact" agreement this week. The agreement includes allowing six no-limit poker games each year.

The state of Florida and the Seminole Tribe have been in negotiations involving the casinos for 16 years, according to the Sun-Sentinel in Florida. The compact signed on Wednesday finally brings those talks to a close.

The result is a 25-year deal that will allow the tribe to offer Las Vegas-style slot machines and banked card games such as baccarat and blackjack at the seven casinos they already operate in the state.

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 expansion, the state will get a share of the proceeds from the casinos. The state will initially receive $50 million from the tribe once the federal government approves the deal.

After that, the state will get guaranteed minimum annual payments of $100 million, and starting in the third year of operation, the state will receive between 10 and 25% of the gambling revenue taken in by the tribe.

Governor Crist is asking that 95% of the money the state receives be used for education, with the remaining 5% going to local governments impacted by the increased gambling activities at the casinos. The state legislature will be in charge of appropriating the money.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, the deal was finalized just one day before a deadline set by the U.S. Department of Interior. If the two parties had not met the deadline, the federal government would have imposed "procedures," a process where the Indian casinos would get their expanded gambling, and the state would have no guaranteed financial benefits from it.

Currently the casinos are only allowed to offer Class II slot machines that deliver bingo odds and are not as lucrative for the player or the casino. The new deal will allow Class III, or Las Vegas-style slots, along with the banked card games.

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