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Senate gaming proposal will likely include language about destination casinos

It isn't 100 percent clear what will be included in the Senate's proposed overhaul of gambling laws, due out Feb. 24.

But one controversial element is likely to make the cut: destination casinos.

On Monday, Senate Gaming Committee Chairman Garrett Richter, R-Naples, said he opposed a "carte blanche expansion of gaming throughout the entire state of Florida." 

But he would like to see one Vegas-style casino in Miami-Dade County and one in Broward County.

"[Miami] attracts people from around the world," Richter said. "Those folks show up with Euro dollars, with yen. Those could be new revenue dollars to the state."

Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, raised objections to the idea.

"I think we should let the market compete and decide where they want to put them," Clemens said.

Committee Vice Chairwoman Maria Sachs wasn't sold on Richter's suggestion, either. 

"This is an open-ended conversation when it comes to the number and geographic destination, and the exclusivity," said Sachs, a Delray Beach Democrat. 

The Senate bill is also expected to address other elements, ranging from decoupling to the creation of a "gaming control" department. 

Richter said Monday that he does not want the committee to take a final vote on the proposal during the first week of the session. He would rather committee members spend time deliberating and debating the bill, he said.