Florida Fails To Agree New Gambling Reform Legislation

Florida Fails To Agree New Gambling Reform LegislationOn Thursday, Florida legislature failed to advance discussions on a 400-page bill designed to allow the building of two casino resorts in the Miami area. The 14-member special committee was unable to reach an agreement which would have satisfied the demands of the various disparate groups, and so the committee has now agreed to give up on the casino package this year.
Currently, Florida offers regulated offshore gambling cruises, Native American casinos
(slots, poker and table games), and Racinos (horse and dog racing, slots and poker). In 2013, Florida’s gambling industry subsequently generated $385 million in revenues last year.
The gambling expansion bill was based upon the findings of a Spectrum Gaming report and was seeking to build two casino hotel resorts offering all gambling games under one roof, with Malaysia-based Genting Group lobbying hard to be considered one of the beneficiaries. With just four weeks left of the legislative session, however, the chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee has now given up on efforts to reach consensus and then have the gambling reform bill pass in both chambers. As Senator Garrett Richter, explains:
“During the gaming committee’s extended deliberations over the past year, it has become increasingly apparent to me that, even on our committee, reaching consensus on a 400-page gaming reform bill is just not in the cards.”
A key part of the negotiations centered around the Seminole tribe’s 2010 compact with the state which gave them exclusive rights to offer card games at five of their casinos for a five-year period in exchange for at least $1 billion going towards state coffers. With the gambling compact expiring next year, Florida and the Seminoles have yet to agree a new revenue-sharing agreement which would satisfy a federal law requiring any deal with the state to similarly include something of value for the tribe. Advocating a patient approach, Senator Garrett Richter, warned against putting “the gaming reform cart in front of the Seminole compact horse” and risk complicating the whole issue.
Following Senator Richter’s announcement, Orlando Republican Sen. Andy Gardiner, traditionally an opponent to gambling expansion, struck a more conciliatory note for the future, saying that the bill allowed the two senators “to air that out in public and put everybody on notice that several of us will be here next year and we will be pursuing a gaming bill. I look forward to being here next year and congratulating you on passing that gaming bill.”

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