Florida lawmakers discuss gaming bill

As the annual legislative session is coming to an end, the Florida House decided to discuss a gaming bill to add slots to horse or dog tracks.

US.- The Florida House is about to finish the annual legislative session, but not before discussing a proposal to allow slot machines in more counties. The proposal would allow three counties in the Sunshine State to add slot machines to horse or dog tracks.

If the proposal gets approved, it would renew a compact signed between the state and the Seminole Tribe. The three counties have not been chosen yet, but they would operate slot machines, following a series of strict conditions. For example, eight casinos in Miami-Date and Broward would have to reduce the maximum number of machines from 2000 to 1500.

The three counties would be among those that have already conducted referendums to approve games at their pari-mutuel facilities and don’t compete with the Seminole Tribe’s Hard Rock and other casinos. Moreover, the new casinos would have to generate at least US$40 million a year in annual slot machine taxes and fees.

Whilst the House resisted expanding the number of slot machines, the Senate has proposed the expansion in order to receive more revenue. Nevertheless, the proposal has been opposed by the tribe. The federal gaming law establishes that the state must offer the tribe the chance to exclusively operate games in exchange for revenues.

Senators must now consider the proposal and decide whether to make another offer before legislators are set to discuss the measure on Sunday. “This offer is not intended to be comprehensive. However, it’s taken a big step toward the Senate’s position,’’ said Rep. Mike LaRosa, R-St. Cloud, chair of the conference committee.

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