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Looser slots rules pass House

Looser rules for Broward's new Vegas-style casinos made it through the Florida House, after a close vote today.

The proposal by Rep. Jack Seiler, R-Wilton Manors, would allow an extra 500 machines per facility, would increase hours and would permit ATMs in the facilities as long as they remain off the casino floor.

The House bill passed in a 61-52 vote after more than half an hour of debate on the expansion of gambling.

"This is our opportunity to say no more," said Rep. Andy Gardiner, an Orlando Republican.

But as several South Florida representatives argued, gambling already exists at the state's Indian casinos and gambling cruises. The changes only help the state cash in as well.

"This is not a debate about gambling," Seiler said. "Gambling is happening in our state. It's happening here guys. It's in front of our eyes...We're just trying to level the playing field."

The discussion was an about face from the Senate where similar bill by Sen. Steve Geller, a Cooper City Democrat, passed last week 29-9 with almost no debate.

The chambers will now need to work out the differences between the two bills before they can go to the governor.