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New Zogby Poll Shows Most Floridians Think Pari-mutuels Should Be Allowed to Offer Same Games as Seminoles

January 11, 2010

Associated Industries of Florida Renews Call for a Better Seminole Gaming Compact that Protects Pari-mutuels, Increases Revenue for the State and Creates Jobs Across Florida

TALLAHASSE, Fla. -- January 11, 2010 -- Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) today renews its call for a Better Deal for Floridians in the state’s still un-ratified agreement with the Seminoles regarding the games they may offer and the taxes they pay the state.  

The AIF position is buttressed by a new Zogby poll showing that over 60% of Floridians surveyed in a statewide poll conducted in late December agree with the statement:

“If the Florida Legislature were to approve the Seminole Gaming Compact, do you think Florida’s pari-mutuel industry should be able to offer comparable games of chance?”

The statement was ‘strongly” supported by over 40% of respondents, opposed by only 26.4% and 13.3% did not respond (NOTE: See poll methodology at end of release).

AIF is one of many vocal opponents of the signed -- but yet not legislatively approved -- Seminole Indian Gaming compact. 

“On behalf of AIF and our members across the state of Florida, I urge our State Legislators to fix this proposed compact,” said Barney T. Bishop III, President & CEO of AIF. 

“Under the federal rules for Indian Gaming, the Seminoles are entitled to offer one unique feature in their gaming options. That’s reasonable and we support that. But we DO NOT think it is fair to give the Seminoles the sweeping exclusivity over so many games as proposed in the draft compact,” said Bishop. “The granting of so much exclusivity would create an unfair advantage to the Seminole facilities that would further erode our state’s pari-mutuel industry.”

“In 2007-2008, revenue to the state from the pari-mutuel industry was $167.8 million.  Giving the Seminoles such an unfair competitive advantage would put this tax revenue for the state in jeopardy and could very well lead to the demise of an industry that has been around for almost a century,” stated Bishop.

According to a March, 2009 Florida TaxWatch Study, “the total revenue losses to the State attributable to the expanded gaming at the Seminole casinos over ten years are estimated at $713 million.”  This projection only reflects slot machine revenue losses at South Florida tracks and not the total statewide impact.

“The State of Florida cannot turn its back on an industry that generates so much revenue and over 30,000 good paying jobs for Floridians across this state,” said Bishop. “To the contrary, establishing a pathway towards electronic gaming for existing permit holders has the potential to generate more tax revenue than the existing compact and create jobs that are desperately needed.”

“In addition,” said Bishop, “we cannot understand why the state would even consider granting such a great benefit to one organization for the relatively insignificant fee of $150 million per year and then cap that fee even as the proceeds grow.” 

Bishop noted that two Connecticut tribal casinos last year paid over $411 million to the State of Connecticut for the right to operate. Adjusting for the difference between the budgets of the two states (roughly $20 billion for Connecticut vs. close to $70 billion for Florida) the Connecticut tribal casinos pay over nine times more in fees than the fees proposed in Florida for the Seminoles.

The inadequacy of this fee payment is further compounded by freezing the fee and not allowing it to grow over time as proceeds grow. Equity dictates that the Seminoles pay the same 35% of their proceeds as paid by Florida’s pari-mutuels.

The proposed compact must be ratified by the Florida legislature before going into effect.  A number of legislative leaders including Senate President Jeff Atwater (R-North Palm Beach) and Rep Bill Galvano (R- Bradenton), the leading House negotiator on the Seminole gaming issue, have expressed serious concerns regarding the current version of the compact.


Conducted by Zogby International on Dec. 7-11, 2009, the poll surveyed by telephone 801 randomly-selected likely general election voters throughout Florida. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent.

The question about the Seminole Gaming Compact was:
Q. If the Florida Legislature were to approve the Seminole Indian Gaming Compact, do you think Florida’s pari-mutuel industry should be able to offer comparable games of chance? 






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