Florida Senate Says Gambling Bills are Dead this Legislative Session

Casino Watch Focus has been reporting  on the ongoing gambling developments during this year’s Florida legislative session.  The Florida House moved forward and passed a bill, but the Senate has been taking more time to push any legislation, in part at the urging of Gov. Scott and in part due to a lack of agreement on how or when to establish new destination casinos.  An online Tallahassee source explains:

The chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee turned off the lights on a comprehensive gambling measure that could have allowed resort casinos in South Florida, telling the chamber that he lacked the votes to advance it and is instead deferring to Gov. Rick Scott.

“It has become increasingly apparent to me that, even on our committee, reaching consensus on a 400-page gaming reform bill just is not in the cards,” Richter, R-Naples, said.

Richter’s comments Thursday made official growing speculation that lawmakers would not pass any comprehensive gambling measures during the 2014 session, even after spending $400,000 on a gambling study and after the Senate held a series of meetings across the state on the issue.

This seems to solidify the strategy of waiting until a new compact with the Seminole Tribe has been passed and ratified.  As explained by the same Tallahassee online source, it looks like 2015 will be the most likely date for new expansion legislation:

House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, has for at least a month insisted that his chamber would not approve any legislation until Scott completed negotiations with the Seminole Tribe of Florida about a portion of a 20-year gambling deal that will expire in mid-2015. Scott has given no indication how far the talks have progressed.

“I think we can reasonably expect an agreement soon that may significantly alter revenue-sharing or exclusivity provisions. If we put the gaming reform cart in front of the Seminole compact horse, we run the risk of getting policies at cross-purposes. The wiser course is to be patient and to address comprehensive gaming reform in the context of a compact ratification,” Richter said.

Scott’s office gave the same response it has provided to reporters for more than a month.

“With the gaming compact set to expire in 2015, we will take the time needed to get the best deal for Floridians,” Scott spokesman Frank Collins said.

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