Seminole Leader’s Perspective

Protect the Seminole gaming compact

Re the Jan. 12 story Attorney general throws wrench into slot-machine referendums statewide: We would like to say a hearty sho-naa-bish (thank you), to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi for the strong opinion she delivered on Jan. 12 denying the legality of slot-machine gaming referendums across Florida.

Given the highly charged, complicated atmosphere surrounding destination resort casino legislation now creeping through the Florida Legislature, it is refreshing that one Florida leader has stepped forward to bring a sense of fair play to this ever-growing shadowy situation.

Bondi is correct in her opinion that individual county referendums approving slot machines at existing pari-mutuel facilities violate the Florida Constitution. She has directed the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation not to approve slot-machine licenses based on upcoming votes.

She found that such referenda are valid only if pre-authorized by the Legislature or the state Constitution. Her words brought a strong dose of reality to fast-track gaming interests in two rural Florida counties. They were barely two weeks from conducting the special referenda.

When we first heard about the current legislation to significantly expand gaming in Florida, the Seminole Tribe of Florida stood squarely in support of the gaming compact that the tribe signed with the state of Florida in 2010.

We have called upon Gov. Rick Scott, the Cabinet and the Florida Legislature to protect this agreement, which was signed in good faith, against all attacks on its integrity.

We hope Bondi will stand firm when the arrows start to fly from those who thought they could sneak in under her radar.

The terms of the compact clearly preclude slot machines at facilities outside of Broward and Miami-Dade counties and make no provisions for special referenda without legislative approval.

James E. Billie, chairman, Seminole Tribe of Florida, Hollywood

Tony Sanchez Jr., president, Seminole Tribe of Florida, Hollywood

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