Gambling Expansion Worries table Greyhound ‘De-coupling’ Bill

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of the Genting Group to bring Vegas-style, destination casino’s to Florida.  Their most recent efforts involved the Gulfstream Resort deal and the purchase of property in Miami.  That deal was blocked. Of course, history says that Genting Groups attempts will continue, and this new strategy was creative, but ultimately stopped before it had a chance to move forward.  There have been many reports of issues with greyhound racing in Florida, namely the treatment of the animals.  Greyhound racing has been a condition to allowing other gambling activities such as poker rooms and slot machines.  In an effort to put an end to greyhound racing, legislation was proposed to de-couple it from other types of gambling.  Unfortunately, after debate of the issue in a legislative committee, it was clear that too many questions remained about the implication of released licenses and the Genting Group looked to want to exploit that for hopes of casino gambling in Miami.  South Florida’s NPR explains how the situation unfolded and how the legislation as been set aside to prevent future damage to Florida’s families until more is understood:

A plan to put an end to greyhound racing in Florida came unglued in the state Senate Gaming Committee hearing on Tuesday. As the proposal began to look like a substantial expansion of gambling in Florida, sponsor Maria Sachs pulled the plug on her own legislation.

The plan was to stop forcing dog tracks to schedule greyhound faces as a condition of operating poker rooms and slot machines. Because dog races are no longer popular or profitable, it was assumed they would die out. But as details of the measure emerged during a 90-minute hearing, senators got uncomfortable.

Miami Senator Gwen Margolis and others, including Senator Jack Latvala of Clearwater said it wasn’t clear whether the unused racing permits could be transferred to established new casinos with token dog racing. As the tide turned against her measure, Sachs realized she didn’t have the votes.

Greyhound industry lobbyist Jack Cory said Margolis’ fears weren’t far from the truth. He said it was likely Broward’s Gulfstream Park would take its permit to Miami to partner with the Genting Group on a new casino there.  

The author of the legislation, Senator Margolis, explained that she plans to rework the bill and introduce it once it contains language that would clearly prevent this strategy for expanded gambling. 

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