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Analysts: Florida gov't lacked leverage

16 November 2007

FLORIDA -- As reported by the Florida Sun Sentinel: "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.

"Still, analysts said that given the Seminoles' already solid financial base and the threat of federal government intervention, Florida didn't have much leverage to push for a better deal.

"...'This would fall somewhere in the middle range compared to other compacts,' said Alan Meister, an economist with the Analysis Group in Los Angeles, a consulting firm.

"...The compact calls for Florida to pocket at least $100 million in the first year of the tribe's expanded casino operations, including an advance payment of $50 million when the deal is approved in Washington.

"...Florida's compact, which is almost certain to face numerous legal challenges, calls for the Seminoles to hand over 10 percent of the take on the first $2 billion in revenue. They pay a 25 percent royalty fee only on the portion of revenues above $4.5 billion — a figure analysts called unlikely..."

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