A bill is being analysed in Florida to regulate sports betting but faces opposition due to the impact on live racing.
US.- The Florida Senate has moved a step closer to updating gambling regulations that remain a “gray area” in the state, with casinos permitted, but sports betting prohibited except for horse racing.
This week, the Sunshine State’s Senate has shown its intention to create the Florida Gaming Control Commission through three bills that would also end the role of live racing operators as the sole concessionaires for slot machines and card rooms.
One of the bills allows casinos and card rooms to operate without running harness or quarter-horse races or jai-alai matches.
The proposal had already attracted opposition from the owners of a racecourse last year. Now, they have warned that the change will devastate their business and lead to the loss of jobs.
Mike Rogers, president of Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach, said: “The consequences of creating an uneven playing field amongst slot permit holders would be devastating to the Florida thoroughbred industry, which is one of the largest agricultural sectors in the state of Florida.
“Any reduction in casino purses would significantly impact local jobs and the underlying stability of the horse racing industry.”
However, the House has not yet drafted any similar legislation and the bill is not likely to be passed soon. Other frameworks are also being prepared to be proposed to the Senate.
Three bills to legalise sports betting in Florida
The move to legalise sports betting in Florida began early this year. Back in February, two members of the Florida House of Representatives, Chip LaMarca and Anika Omphroy filed three bills: one to legalise sports betting, one to implement the licensing policy and one on the proposed tax structure.
The representatives said the move would help to balance the state’s budget following the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.