House Republican Leader Dana Young on Tuesday confirmed what has been speculated for months: this won't be the year for gaming expansion, destination resort casinos, or even new games for the Seminole Tribe.
Young released a revamped gaming bill, HB 1233, that signals her long-held goal: to end greyhound racing as we know it by ending the requirement that dog tracks operate live racing in order to offer card games or slot machines.
The proposal, quietly released on Tuesday, shrinks the 316-page bill to 59 and removes all opportunities for gaming expansion in Florida.
It provides a lifeline, however, to the 12 remaining greyhound tracks whose owners increasingly say dog racing is costing them money and want the option of phasing out of the sport. State regulators also say that the cost of regulating greyhound racing is higher than the tax revenue it brings in.
Young, a dog advocate, also uses her bill to require tracks that continue to race greyhounds to adhere to strict new requirements to report all dog injuries. The provision, named after Victoria Q. Gaetz, the wife of former Senate President Don Gaetz, passed the Senate last year but failed to make it through the House on the final day of the legislative session.
The previous version of Young's bill was the subject of a workshop of the House Regulated Industries Committee, where support for the ambitious overhaul appeared slim.
Young's plan attempted to expand some gambling operations while contracting others. It opened up the opportunity for two destination resort casinos to operate in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, phased out dog racing and unused racing permits, capped any future gaming expansion, ended tax credits for pari-mutuels, and created a state gaming commission to provide streamlined oversight of the industry.
Young's revamped bill eliminates all those provisions, except the dog racing provisions and caps on permits.
The Senate Regulated Industries Committee is scheduled to vote Wednesday on its scaled-back proposal to offer up a one-year extension of the gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. The compact is scheduled to expire on July 31.
Amendments to that bill, SPB 7088, if passed, could open the door to allowing some additional gambling -- such as slot machines at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.
Another amendment, by Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Boca Raton, would track Young's proposal to end the requirement for live racing at dog tracks, a provision known as decoupling.