Crist Caves, Lawsuits Certain
Well, the governor went off and did it. Signed a compact that gives the Seminoles a gambling monopoly and imperils the already struggling pari-mutuels -- which actually pay taxes and are regulated by the state. Thankfully, it probably won't go into effect for a while as the lawsuits roll in.
The Sun-Sentinel, of course, cheerleaded for the deal. A September 12 editorial titled "Time to get deal done with Tribe" urged Crist to just shut and sign the compact. Now, after the fact, the newspaper is telling us it isn't such a good deal after all. Reporter John Holland writes this morning that Florida's deal is skimpy. The lede:
It's being sold as a windfall for taxpayers and the Seminole Tribe, but Florida's cut from an agreement to expand tribal gambling is dwarfed by some others negotiated around the country, industry analysts and public records show.
What's more, the 25-year agreement signed by Gov. Charlie Crist and Seminole Chairman Mitchell Cypress at the state Capitol on Wednesday provides for less state oversight and no permanent regulatory presence inside the tribal casinos.
Why didn't the editorial board bother to tell us this when it was selling the compact as a windfall? It is true, though, that the federal government pressured Crist to make the deal. And Crist, no heavyweight, quickly caved when his back glanced the wall.
So what to do now? Get a referendum to give blackjack and baccarat to the pari-mutuels in Broward (can't have them anywhere else or the Seminoles won't pay the state anymore) to even the playing field. Even Marco Rubio should see that the only fair thing to do at this point is let the people decide.