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A modest proposal

Amid all the battling property tax plans, a couple of state lawmakers say its time to gamble on relief -- Las Vegas style.

Under one joint proposal by Rep. Julio Robaina and Sen. Larcenia Bullard, each county in the state would vote on whether to add full Las Vegas-style gambling, everything from slots to blackjack.

Half of revenue from the new casinos then would be used to offset property taxes, build affordable housing...and treat compulsive gambling.

"Keep your mind open to this," Robaina told the House Business Regulation Committee. "This is what we owe the people of Florida."

Robaina, a Miami Republican, and Bullard, a Miami Democrat, even brought in David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at University of Nevada Las Vegas, to explain to legislators that "gaming is a rising tide that lifts all boats."

And don't worry, Robaina pointed out, their plan believes in moderation: gambling would only be allowed in parimutuels and large hotels.

"With all respect to Vegas and all those states that put it in grocery stores and on every corner, that's not what we want," he said.

The House committee didn't take a vote Thursday, and the idea hasn't been presented to the Senate. But already some lawmakers are skeptical.

"Are you telling us the people who elected us have the good judgment to decide whether there's gambling in their community?" asked Rep. Franklin Sands, a Weston Democrat and a former casino operator in Clark County, Nevada.

"Absolutely," Robaina replied. "Common sense does exist in the state of Florida."

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