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Gambling talks collapse in Florida Legislature


The Legislature will not pass a new gaming deal that could have expanded slot machines in Florida and allowed new games at the Seminole Tribe of Florida's seven casinos. 

“It’s dead,” State Sen. Bill Galvano said Tuesday as negotiations with the Florida House over gambling in Florida collapsed.

Galvano said he’s going to request Senate President Joe Negron dissolve a conference committee aimed at working out a deal because the House and Senate are at an impasse that just can't be resolved.

Earlier on Tuesday, Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, said there were a lot of little hang-ups, but the biggest was how the two chambers wanted to address slot machines in 8 counties that have held elections to permit them.

"The House has stuck to its original position of not expanding to the eight referendum counties, and the Senate has continued to ask for different variations of expansion in those counties," said Diaz, the House's lead negotiator on the gambling deal.  "We have a very difficult time with the concept of massive expansion of gaming."

Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said Monday night that the issue is about more than expanding gambling. He said it was also about respecting the will of voters in the eight counties who have voted to have the slot machines.

"They voted for it," Negron said. "They’re the same people who sent us here and I feel strongly that a gaming bill has to respect their decision to allow more gaming opportunity. If we can resolve that issue, then I think everything else can fall into place."

But Diaz said philosophically that was a problem for the House. He said there are small counties making decisions to expand gaming options that will affect neighboring counties and cities that have not voted for expanding slot machines.

"The fear is that you have counties that are very small that are not very populated and they are voting and that affects their neighboring counties," Diaz said. "As something as important in a state that has a history of allowing everybody to vote for expansion of slots, I think the House has consistently said that if you really do want gaming in these counties, maybe every voter in the state should agree."

Voters passed a statewide referendum to allow slot machines in Miami-Dade and Broward, but there has never been a statewide referendum on the other counties that have since passed their own proposals. The 8 other counties that have passed referendums include Brevard, Duval, Gadsden, Lee, Hamilton, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Washington counties.