Major Gambling Expansion Legislation Proposed by Florida House

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of the Genting Group to bring full-scale, Vegas-style, gambling casino resorts to Florida. Currently, casino’s rest with the Seminole Nation but various attempts over the years have sought to expand beyond tribal gambling. Casino Watch Focus last reported that the current gambling compact with the Seminole Nation, which limits full scale casino gambling games to the Seminole’s in exchange for guaranteed revenue to the state of Florida, was up for renewal and it didn’t look like a deal would be reached this legislative session. If that happens, then Florida could propose its own casino gambling destinations, albeit at the expense of the guaranteed revenue provided by tribal gambling. Florida’s legislative short legislative session started with a new bill being introduced that would allow for major gambling expansion. The Miami Herald explains:

South Florida could become an even bigger gambling haven with two new destination resort casinos and four dog tracks operating slot machines — instead of racing dogs — under a sweeping gaming rewrite filed Monday by House Republican Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa.

The measure, filed in the traditionally gaming-averse House, takes a novel approach to gaming by requiring destination resort operators to buy out active gaming permits in order to operate the swanky casinos.

The bill also helps the powerful South Florida pari-mutuels, which have contributed heavily to GOP election coffers for the last several years, by reducing the tax rate for existing racinos, allowing dog tracks in Palm Beach and Naples to run slot machines, and ending the requirement that dog tracks race dogs in order to offer gaming.

Gaming options would also expand in other parts of the state, such as Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, where wagering on videos of “historical races” would be allowed as a new form of gambling. The seven casinos operated by the Seminole Tribe would also see expanded games as they could offer the full array of black jack, roulette and craps that are available to the resort casinos.

Major opposition to Rep Dana Young’s bill was not far behind. The Miami Herald went on to report:

“This bill would cause the biggest expansion of gambling in Florida history,” said John Sowinski, director of No Casinos, a gaming opposition group backed heavily by Orlando-based amusement part operators like Disney and Universal. “It invites wall to wall casino gambling in Florida, and the social costs and crime that go with it.”

He repeated the oft-used line of opponents, that casinos in states like New Jersey and Las Vegas are struggling and said “it defies logic for Florida to increase its dependence on gambling at a time when casino economies across America are imploding.”

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