Industry observers say passage of gambling bill remains long shot in Fla.

Industry observers say passage of gambling bill remains long shot in Fla.

March 10, 2018 7:00 AM
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Gambling industry observers say passage of a major gambling bill remains a long shot in Florida in the final days of the annual legislative session where the State Senate earlier this week voted 22-10 to approve a measure that seeks to expand the Sunshine State’s gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

This current version of the bill also allows slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities in counties where voters have approved referendums.

The Senate also moved to request the Florida House concur with the Senate proposal and, if the House refuses, to appoint a conference committee to formally negotiate on the issue.

Both the House and Senate proposals seek $3 billion from the Seminoles over the first seven years of a gambling agreement. The Senate proposes an agreement spanning 22 years, two more than in the House version. The Senate measure includes numerous provisions, including allowing tribal casinos to offer craps and roulette, making clear that fantasy sports are not gambling under Florida law and lowering slot-machine tax rates from 35 percent to 25 percent.

The House proposal would allow the tribe to conduct banked-card games, such as blackjack, at five of its seven facilities, but it doesn’t include such things as allowing slot machines at referendum counties.

Lawmakers were expected to extend Friday’s conclusion of its legislative session, but only to hammer out a final $87 billion-plus state budget agreement if a consensus could not be reached.