A state agency that reports to Gov. Rick Scott isn’t clear on the location of millions of dollars the Seminole Tribe says it’s still ponying up from its gambling operations.
A spokesman for the tribe last week said they have a “continuing desire to finalize a new gaming (agreement) with the state of Florida” that includes continued exclusive rights to offer blackjack.
“As further evidence of its positive approach, the Tribe is continuing to make monthly payments to the state that will total $306 million this year,” Gary Bitner said.
What wasn’t clear was what the state was doing with that money.
A recent request for explanation to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), which regulates gambling, was responded to with a chart showing past payments and projected future payments.
(When asked whether those payments would end if no new agreement is approved this year, Bitner said, “As has been noted many times, it is the Tribe’s policy to not discuss the specific content of its compact negotiations with the state.”)
Those payments “are made to the Department of Revenue,” according to a DBPR statement, “which should be able to provide more information about the types of accounts those funds are deposited into.”
Revenue, however, responded with puzzlement.
“The Florida Department of Revenue does not post, reconcile or distribute Indian gaming revenues shared with the State of Florida under the Compact,” its statement said.
In fact, state law “specifies that the (official) compliance agency (DBPR’s Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering) is designated as the state agency having the authority to carry out the state’s oversight responsibilities under the Compact,” the statement added.
“They are the best resource on this,” it said.
A request for clarification to the Governor’s Office is pending.