Florida legislature looking to expands gambling even as economists say their plans wont work

The Miami Herald is reporting the specifics of a new FL House Bill aimed at expanding gambling as a means to generate extra money for the state:

Amid warnings that expanding gambling is not a good bet for the state this year, a House committee passed a scaled-back Indian gaming bill Friday.  The House select committee on tribal gaming voted 17-1 Friday to give the Seminole Tribe the exclusive right to operate Class III slot machines at its seven casinos in Florida in return for $100 million a year.

As previously reported by Casino Watch Focus, Class III ‘bingo’ slot machines are virtually identical to their normal and addictive counterparts, the traditional cherry master slot machines.  The Senate’s proposal is even worse in terms of expanded gambling.  The Miami Herald continues:

The House’s gambling plan is a stark contrast to a Senate plan which passed out of its first committee last week. The Senate has proposed giving the tribe full casinos, including craps and roulette, lowering the tax rate on slots at horse and dog tracks and jai alai frontons, and giving ”racinos” — race tracks that have slot machines — card games such as blackjack. The agreement also would give parimutuels outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties bingo-style, Class II slot machines.

State economists reported that the proposal would not generate the kind of revenue expected and would actually be harmful to the state:

State economists this week shot down predictions by the Senate and governor that the Senate plan would produce $1 billion in new revenue and help close Florida’s $3 billion budget gap.

Instead of $1 billion, economists predicted the Seminole’s full casinos would produce about $400 million a year. They also said the proposal to reduce the tax rate on parimutuels while giving them new games would result in a net loss in taxes to the state.

”It’s very sobering,” said Galvano. “It’s a recognition that whatever we’re doing shouldn’t be a rush to judgment… Any of these changes are going to be slow coming and the money we do have is not going to be anywhere close to the $1 billion.”

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