Wheel of Misfortune

Crist needs to find the stones to deal with the Seminoles

If the tribe balks and tries to install the machines without a compact, let it try its luck in a court case with the state that could play out for years. The Seminoles don't want that. A legal fight with Florida could complicate matters as the Seminoles branch out across the country and world with their recently purchased Hard Rock empire.

From there, you find the best way to get the table games into the Broward pari-mutuels and Seminole casinos. It's the next logical step, and it probably begins with a referendum. Hell, even Rubio should agree that the people ought to make that decision.

Yet public opinion right now seems tilted toward rushing into a deal with the Seminoles and giving them everything they want. Adkins blames it on "scare tactics" spread by the tribe's high-powered lawyers, but that's no excuse for the local media.

The Sun-Sentinel, for instance, backs giving away the store to the tribe, and fast. Two weeks ago, it decried Rubio's promise that the Legislature wouldn't ratify a move by Crist to give the Seminoles the table games.

The title of the September 12 editorial says it all: "Time to get deal done with Tribe." The newspaper endorsed the proposed compact, arguing that the tribe will likely get the slots and table games whether we like it or not. It failed to mention that a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the State of Texas in a similar case last month.

One doesn't want to read too deeply into these things, especially to jump to a conclusion that the huge amount of advertising dollars the tribe gives the Sun-Sentinel for weekend inserts has anything to do with the paper's point of view. No, that would be totally unfair, so I won't even mention it.

The truth is that reasonable people can disagree on the issue, because the fear that taxpayers will lose out on all Seminole revenue is not ungrounded, even though it's far from a given.

And that's where Crist is negotiating from right now: from fear rather than power.

The good news is that Crist clearly wants to do the right thing. During that Rosh Hashanah dinner, Geller refrained from too much gambling talk. But when the issue came up, the senator said, "Governor, I still want to do whatever will generate the most tax dollars for the state."

"That's my goal too," the governor responded, according to Geller. "Let's figure out what will generate the most tax dollars and go forward."

In the long run, that isn't going to be accomplished by kowtowing to the Seminoles. The way to a sweet new year will come by rolling the dice. And by playing this game to win.

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