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Senate committee proposes elements of a gambling overhaul in Florida

The Florida Senate is in the midst of drafting a sweeping overhaul of the state's gambling legislation and, judging by the committee's checklist, it will include a grab bag of goodies for many seeking to restructure, and expand, gambling in Florida. Whether any of it will pass this election year, is another story.

"I'm not sure when we cross the finish line,'' said Sen. Garrett Richter, chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee on Monday. He said the bill to be released Feb. 10 will be at least 300 pages long and the Senate's effort is "a signficant endeavor." The committee today will discuss what elements it would like to include.

Among the likely components in the bill:

* Allow for expansion of gambling, including a Destination Resorts casino in Miami-Dade or Broward County, only after a statewide referendum vote is approved. The destination resort investors may also be required to generate a minimum share of the revenue from out-of-state gamblers. 

* Revise the state's hole-ridden regulation of gaming by creating a new state "Gaming Control" department that is regulated by either a secretary or a multi-member commission.  

* Eliminate or reduce the requirement that horse and dog tracks operate live racing in order to run poker games and slot machines. This concept known as "decoupling" has the support of most dog track owners in Florida but is a concept that divides the horse community. 

* Require parimutuels in other parts of the state, such as Palm Beach and Tampa, to get local voter approval to operate slot machines. 

* In exchange for decoupling and expanded games at Florida's existing racinos, parimutuel owners would have to commit to a minimum capital investment, designed to ensure that jobs are generated. 

* Remove requirements on video slot machines run by arcades such as: removing the requirement that there are 50 or more machines in a facility, removing the requirement that machines be coin operated; raise the ability to collect winnings in increments of 75 cents per game. 

Senate President Don Gaetz and House Speaker Will Weatherford told reporters that passing a gaming rewrite is not one of their session priorities, lowering expectations on whether a bill will pass this year.

Also hovering over any decision related to gambling is the state's agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, a portion of which expires in July 2015. If the state approves any expanded gambling outside of Miami Dade and Broward, the tribe is no longer required to pay the $250 million in annual revenues under the agreement. If the state allows for expanded gambling in Miami-Dade and Broward, including creating a destination resort as Las Vegas Sands and Genting want to see in Miami, the tribe would stop paying a portion of its fees to the state - estimated by legislative staff as about $140 million.

Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton lawyer involved in drafting the 2009 gambling legislation, noted that in addition to the Seminole Tribe, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida also have a right to negotiate a compact with the state if they want to operate games that exceed those that are presently allowed in Florida. 

Gov. Rick Scott, whose job it is to re-negotiate the contract, has indicated no interest in negotiating any tribal deal before the November elections. 



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Ed Jenkins

The people have repeatedly stated that they, they um, what was it they said?
They like the crusts cut off their sandwiches?
No that's not it, um.
Oh yes, the milkman only comes on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Ed Jenkins

The citizens greatly resent their family friendly state being turned into one that attracts crime, prostitution and illegal drugs that come along with gambling. In addition these horrible casinos prey on the most vulnerable poor and turn many others who can't afford it into poor people causing them to request money to be confiscated from taxpayers for their bad decisions.

Riley Rose

For the majority out there, I'm sure you will all agree, If you don't like gambling don't go but please don't ruin it for the 90 something percent of us who gamble responsibly. Me, my wife and friends go to the Hard Rock on a regular basis. We go for the entertainment and slots and we know when to stop if we are losing. It's only entertainment for us and I know many people who are the same. We expect to lose but there's always that chance of winning big and it's fun to experience that edge of probability. I would love to see slots at the racetracks. I'm tired of hearing all this about crime and poverty, blah blah blah. it's a bunch of bull and as far as the ones that choose to risk their rent money, they are a very small percent and they will find a way to risk it anyway, be it the lotto, the horses or their sports bookie. Gambling is gambling is gambling. More importantly, raise your kids to be smart. We also take the kids to Disney World, I actually spend more going there than the Hard Rock at about a 5-1 ratio. Oh no wait!...are the Family Friendly Disney Resorts also cannibalizing my financial savings? Well maybe, but you know what, it's my choice and I like choices!


What kind of loser admits they like throwing money away at casino games that are rigged against them? What a dumbass you are rose, probably the same kind of moron that loses his ass on carnival games and the lottery and then complains and tries to make the rest of us pay his bills for him.

Riley Rose

You missed the point D, I can throw my money where I want, Slots, Disney, Dolphin games etc. It's my choice to decide what type of entertainment to purchase with no regrets. Maybe you should move to another country if you don't like freedom. If you have a problem with gambling dont gamble. It's called will power my friend.

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