Category Archives: State News

GUEST ARTICLE: How the Florida House Gambling Bill is the More Sensible Approach

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling bills presented in this years Florida Legislature. Its very clear that both take very different approaches to the issue and a guest article published by Florida Politics by NoCasinos John Sowinski, breaks the issues down and concludes the House has the more sensible approach:

There are two things we can count on in Florida. In any given body of water, eventually the alligators will show up. And in any given meeting of the Florida Legislature, the same applies to gambling lobbyists. Feed either and they only become more insatiable.

With regard to the gambling interests, unfortunately, the Florida Senate is setting up a buffet of glutinous proportions. Proposed legislation calls for the biggest expansion of gambling in Florida’s history.

It literally would recreate our state in Nevada’s image, with casinos popping up in communities from the far reaches of the Panhandle to the end of the Everglades.

There would be two new Las Vegas-style casinos in Broward and Miami-Dade, a region already suffering from a glut of casinos. There would be a massive increase in gambling supply there, without a corresponding increase in gamblers, creating a dynamic in which the casinos could only survive by cannibalizing each other’s customers. Even the gambling industry’s own financial experts predict that 95 percent of the patrons would be locals, not tourists.

This type of gambling over-saturation is what brought the industry crashing down in Atlantic City, but not before it eviscerated existing local jobs and businesses from restaurants to retail stores.

But the Senate bill does not stop with more gambling in South Florida. Initially, casinos would spread to eight other counties. That only would be for starters because under Senate Bill 8, every horse track, dog track or jai alai fronton could become a casino.

Getting back to the alligator analogy, what the Senate is proposing is akin to taking 500 bags of marshmallows out into the middle of Lake Okeechobee at midnight and tossing them in the water….

Understanding this, leaders in the Florida House have taken a different tack. They have put forth a bill that fixes weaknesses in existing gambling law, closes loopholes that gambling lawyers continually exploit, stops the proliferation of slot machines throughout Florida, honors Florida’s constitutional restrictions on gambling, and respects the will of the people of Florida, who have consistently rejected statewide expansions of gambling. Finally, it provides for an agreement with the Seminole tribe that would achieve the stated intent of the original Seminole compact — holding the line on gambling and creating a firewall to stop the spread of casinos throughout Florida.

The entire article can be read HERE

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

Advertisements

Update: Florida Lottery Gambling Expansion Ruled Void

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing issues related to the Florida Lottery. Most recently, it was reported that a new contract with the Florida Lottery could effectively double the amount of gambling from the lottery. An online source reported that a lawsuit was planned by Florida Speaker of the House:

According to the House, the Lottery does not have the authority to sign a contract requiring Legislature to pay more money for gaming. The council for the Speaker of the House stated that the Secretary of the Florida Lottery signed a multi-year contract with IGT Global Solutions Corporation that requires the Florida Lottery to spend more money in the future than what has been appropriated in the budget categories.

With the signing of the contract, the legislative budget for the Fiscal Year 2017 to 2018 will require an aggregate increase in the ticket machine budget categories and the categories will have to be realigned in order to accommodate the new increase via the contract. According to the council, this is impermissible.

Now that the case has been filed, a local judge wasted no time hearing the case. The Judge has ruled the contract is void and unenforceable. An online source explains:

 In what is the second legislative victory for House speaker Richard Corcoran (pictured), on Tuesday, Judge Karen Gievers said that Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie failed to comply with a requirement of Florida law that states that certain contracts have to be pre-approved by the Legislature prior to signing. Judge Gievers 15-page ruling said that in signing the contract, with IGT Global Solutions Corp., a subsidiary of London-based International Game Technology (IGT), and obligating the state to nearly $13 million more than was authorized by the Legislature, the agency overstepped its budgetary authority.

Judge Gievers declared the contract, which would run until 2028, “void and unenforceable,” which means the agency will have to reconfigure a new contract to provide the Florida Lottery with a selection of solutions and services including Powerball and other ticket games.

In a joint statement with Judiciary Chairman Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor and Rules Chairman Jose Oliva, R-Miami, Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes, said “Today’s decision is a victory for the taxpayer and the rule of law,” and, “It reinforces the idea that respecting the separation of powers is not an arcane idea or an out-of-date philosophy,” according to the /Tampa Bay Times.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Seminole Tribe Say Both Florida Gambling Bills are Unacceptable

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts by the Florida Legislature to reach a gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe. Most recentlythe balance of negotiating power shifted to the Seminole Tribe as a court has ruled the State violated the exclusivity agreement and is allowing the Seminole Tribe to offer table games through 2030. As another legislative session begins in the Florida Legislature, politicians are attempting to deal with gambling expansion issues while balancing the long standing relationship with the Seminole Tribe. As recently reported, both the Florida House and Senate have gambling bills moving forward, but they are very different and they both impact a potential new deal with the Seminole Tribe. The Tribe, while calling the House bill less objectionable, has indicated nether bill is one they can support. An online source explains:

Two competing bills in the Florida legislature each seek to find different solutions to the fact that tribe and state have been unable to negotiate a new compact since the previous one expired in 2015. The Seminoles this week rejected both, even the one that’s supposedly designed to protect their interests.

A bill currently wending its way through the House would allow the Seminoles to be granted exclusivity on banked card games, as was the case with its previous compact, but in exchange for $3 billion in payments to the state over seven years. By contrast, a bill authored by the influential senator, Bill Galvano, would charge the Seminoles the same fee over the same timeline but for the right to offer craps and roulette, as well as blackjack.

In a letter to legislative leaders this week, Seminole Tribal Council chairman Marcellus Osceola said that while the House bill was “less objectionable,” neither bills “make economic sense for the tribe.” We think they’re talking about the “$3 billion to the state” bit. The House bill is less objectionable because it is essentially a status quo bill, an antidote to the rampant gambling expansion of Galvano’s proposal. It’s clear that, for the Seminoles, the thought of exclusivity on craps and roulette would not offset the increased competition from the proliferation of blackjack and slots throughout the state. The tribe’s point-blank refusal is indicative of the its new-found leverage in the negotiations, thanks to a recent court ruling in their favor.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION

 


Florida Legislature and Gambling Industry Brace for Massive Gambling Expansion Bill introduced in the Florida Senate

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling issues in Florida. The most recent gambling issues have centered around the Seminole Tribe Gambling Compact  and exclusivity of table gamesand gambling venues right to expand gamblingMost of these issues are intertwined, but almost all gambling expansion requires the approval of the Florida legislature and each session these issues are up for debate. This year is no different so it should come as no surprise that a new gambling bill has been proposed for the upcoming session. The scope and size of the bill however, is rather surprising. An online source summarizes the details:

A comprehensive bill to reform gambling in the US state of Florida has been introduced. Saying he wants to avoid the arguments that have hampered previous efforts, Bill Galvano, president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States, has launched a bill that offers “something for everyone.”

Galvano introduced Senate Bill 8 two months before the legislature convenes, saying he wants to give all sides time to compromise. The bill would allow major slots expansion, allow blackjack in South Florida pari-mutuel card rooms, deal with daily fantasy sports and offer a new gaming compact to the Seminole Indians.

The specifics of the bill will be expanded upon as session nears, but the direction of the bill pointing firmly in the direction of massive expansion, will surely catch the eye of everyone involved, including the Florida House who seems to prefer less gambling, especially in light of the complexities involved with the Seminole Compact.   The source continues:

The bill’s fate looks uncertain with the House preferring a contraction of gaming and the Seminoles saying a loss of gambling exclusivity would mean an end of their compact, thus an end of payments to the state. 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


UPDATE: Florida State Challenges Court Ruling on Banked Card Rooms

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing saga of player-banked card games and how the court has now ruled they violate the exclusive agreement Florida has with Seminole Tribe and constitute nothing more than traditional card games. These forms of games were originally allowed several years back and were allowed because they were to be played against players themselves and not the house. However, once it was discovered just how card rooms were actually running these games, the court ruled they were illegal. Now, it appears the State is not happy with the ruling and is looking to appeal. The Sun Sentinel online reported the story: 

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation on Thursday took the first step in appealing a judge’s ruling about lucrative “designated player” card games at pari-mutuel facilities across the state.

The department, which regulates gambling facilities, filed a notice in the 1st District Court of Appeal indicating it will challenge an Aug. 26 ruling by Administrative Law Judge E. Gary Early.

In the ruling, Early said the state was wrong to do away with a rule governing the “designated player” games without replacing the regulations. The industry maintains that eliminating the rule, adopted in 2014, would put an end to the games. Regulators proposed doing away with the rule late last year, insisting that the way the games are being conducted — and not the games themselves — violates a state gambling law.

Given the case has such large implication with the Seminole Compact, and it’s a form of gambling so many pari-mutuel facilities have been offering, this will continue to garner attention in the Florida gambling and legislative community.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Guest Article: Three Reasons Floridians Should Care About Plight of Atlantic City

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to expand gambling in Florida. The recent video released by No Casinos provided a great timeline of how gambling has slowly but surely continued to expand in Florida in ways the voting public usually never intended. As the legislature examines a new round of gambling expansion ideas this upcoming legislative session, it’s important to remember the history that gambling plays not only locally, but all across the country. One local group has done just that. Paul Sago, executive director of No Casinos, has drawn a parallel between the gambling plight of Atlantic City and the resent efforts to expand gambling in Florida. The article can be found online with Sunshine State News:

The plight of Atlantic City shows some glaring truths that Floridians need to be aware of, so that we don’t make the same mistakes. Here are No Casinos’ three main reasons why Floridians should care.

*1. It proves that gambling doesn’t help the local economy.*

The gambling industry loves to spin the fable that casinos are an economic panacea for communities that are struggling financially. The industry promises that gambling will generate new revenue for local and state government. The truth is, money spent in a casino is simply money not spent in another sector of the economy. After gambling has gained a
foothold, local businesses surrounding a casino struggle to stay open. A case in point: After casinos were legalized in Atlantic City, 40 percent of restaurants and one-third of the retail establishments there went out of business. In a well-developed economy like Florida’s, gains in the casino gambling industry will come at the expense of existing jobs and businesses.

*2. It proves that oversaturation is real and could be headed to Florida.*

The expansion of casinos and other venues has resulted in oversaturation of gambling in many regions of the U.S. It’s widely understood that Atlantic City’s problems were caused by a glut of casinos there and competition from new gambling facilities in neighboring states. In fact, according to an Aug. 10, 2014, New York Times article, “more than half the population in the Northeast now live within 25 miles of a casino featuring video lottery, table games or slot machines.”

There are only so many gamblers for casinos to lure, and expanding casino gambling locations causes casinos to cannibalize themselves. Currently, Miami-Dade and Broward counties are home to eight pari-mutuel facilities authorized to have slot machines. There are also seven Indian tribal facilities in Florida featuring gambling options — six in Miami-Dade and Broward counties and one in Tampa.

Now, the gambling industry is seeking approval to build mega-casinos in South Florida, and existing gambling operators in the state want more, too. It never stops.

*3. In order for casino companies to grow they must expand into new markets — and Florida is considered a top prize.*

In order to maintain their profits, casino companies must continually find new gamblers to lose money in their casinos. In 1988 only two states had casino-style gambling. Today, 39 states do.

Florida’s large population and heavy flow of tourists have always made us a coveted target of casino companies. But expansion of gambling here would threaten our family-friendly brand that is the envy of virtually every other state in the U.S. Several years ago Las Vegas tried to
become a family destination and failed miserably. And now, Atlantic City is trying to reinvent its image following an economic meltdown caused by multiple casino closings last year.

It’s quite simple: a gambling brand and family-friendly brand are not compatible.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida Greyhound Industry on Verge of Closure

Casino Watch has reported on the many struggles of the Greyhound industry, including the newest attempts in Florida to decouple other forms of gambling from the dog racing industry to help put an end to the industry. With reports of animal abuse and mass amounts of racing dogs being put down, its no surprise people are hoping to end the industry. The News Herald online is reporting that the industry has seen a tremendous downturn and is on the verge of closure, but hopes to hold on long enough to keep gambling licenses after decoupling legislation is finalized, thus allowing them to stop greyhound racing altogether: 

Betting on live racing has fallen from almost $1 billion in 1990 to $258 million last year in Florida, home to 12 of the 21 U.S. tracks that regularly hold live dog races.

Hess said the track’s handle is up, and it is committed to offering live greyhound racing.

The owners of many tracks — along with ghost tracks that now offer only simulcast racing — are aiming to survive long enough for states to let them drop dog racing altogether and just run casinos.

Marc Dunbar, a Tallahassee attorney whose practice focuses on gaming and government law, said there are several political factors at work that he believes eventually will lead to the end of dog racing throughout the state.

“If I was telling my kids an industry to get into for their future, it would not be breeding greyhounds,” he said.

The News Herald goes on to explain that the hope of independent stand alone slot machines being allowed in those venues seems to be unlikely given the Seminole Compact that is in place:

If slot machines were allowed in dog tracks, it would not generate nearly as much for the state as the revenues from the Seminole compact, Dunbar said.

“We have eight facilities [with slot machines] operating in South Florida, and all eight of them don’t produce as much as the Seminole Tribe does,” he said. “The compact says any expansion outside of the eight existing facilities in Dade and Broward will shut off the Seminole’s payments.”

Senate President Don Gaetz said Wednesday he could not predict whether legislation will be introduced in the next legislative session to allow slot machines at dog tracks or decoupling.

He said he wouldn’t mind if dog racing ended, as there are many instances of inhumane treatment of greyhound dogs at tracks throughout the state, including at Ebro.

 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION