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Reps up the ante on House slots debate

After weeks of praising the millions brought in by Broward's new Vegas-style slots, House members actually asked the question strangely missing from most of the gambling debates this session: Should the state be expanding gambling?

Representatives spent half an hour debating a proposal by Rep. Jack Seiler, a Wilton Manors Democrat, that would add 500 machines per facility, expand casino hours and permit ATMs and check cashing in the parimutuels as long as it remains off the actual casino floor.

The Senate approved a similar bill by Sen. Steve Geller, D-Cooper City, in a 29-9 vote earlier today.

But the changes didn't go over as well in the House, where representatives questioned the ATM and check cashing provisions, saying the change encouraged compulsive gambling.

Supporters say it's a safety issue. With parimutuels running shuttles to off-site ATMs, visitors become likely targets for robbers.

"If they're going to gamble, we can't stop them," said Rep. Joyce Cusack, a Deland Democrat. "We may slow down the issue but we can't stop them."

The proposal should be up for a final vote next week.