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Governor begins negotiations with Seminole Tribe over fate of gambling

In a sign that Gov. Rick Scott is ready to control the debate over the future of gambling in Florida, the governor said Tuesday that he has begun negotiating a gambling compact with the Seminole Tribe.

"What I’m doing now is negotiating the Seminole compact,’’ Scott said in an exclusive interview with the Herald/Times.

The compact, a legal agreement between the state and the tribe, was first signed by Gov. Charlie Crist and ratified by the Legislature in 2010, but parts of it expire next year. It guarantees that the tribe give the state about $234 million a year in revenue in exchange for the exclusive right to operate slot machines at four casinos outside of Miami-Dade and Broward. It also allows the tribe to operate banked card games — blackjack, chemin de fer and baccarat — at the Hard Rock Casinos near Hollywood and Tampa and three other casinos.

The portion of the agreement that relates to table games expires on August 1, 2015, and Scott could wait until next year – when it’s uncertain whether he will be reelected – or negotiate it now.

What the governor decides to do could determine the fate of gambling in Florida. Story here.