The Florida House and Senate have come to a complete standstill over a bill that will determine the future of gambling in the state of Florida. On Wednesday, The Florida House voted 73-40 in favor of a bill that stands in stark contrast to the one proposed by the State Senate in March.
The legislation proposed by the Senate would expand gambling in the state of Florida, by allowing slot machines at dog and horse tracks. The bill would not only authorize slot machines in any county where voters pass a referendum, but also regulate fantasy sports. In addition, The Seminole Tribe would also be given permission to offer craps and roulette at their casinos.
The House’s proposes legislation paints a very different picture for the future of gambling in the state. Under their legislation, the Seminole’s would be allowed to keep their slot machines and blackjack tables for the next 20 years but would not be given the opportunity to expand and offer additional gaming options. Furthermore, counties interested in authorizing slot machines would not be given the opportunity to do so, as this would remain an exclusive right to tribal-run casinos and tracks in South Florida.
As the two government bodies square off it is likely that they will have to negotiate to a compromise over the next few weeks. That being said, neither side seems to be willing to budge to come to an agreement that could bring in an additional $2 billion to the state over the next seven years. Through the renegotiation of a deal the state made with the Seminole’s in 2010, the state could significantly improve the $1 billion it will receive over that time period, regardless of the outcome of these negotiations.
Senator Bill Galvano, who sponsored the Senate’s gambling bill, said he stands firm with the Senate’s position and will not compromise that positions by negotiating against its views. Galvano explained that the timing is not yet determined for any negotiations to be held, but an agreement must be reached before the end of the current legislative session, which is less than a month from now.
Chairman of the House tourism and gaming subcommittee, Representative Mike La Rosa, stood firm with the House’s opinion to prevent gaming expansion. “Areas that don’t expand gaming have the most potential for negotiations from our side,” he said in one interview. “That (position) will most likely be a point of contention that will impact overall negotiations.”
There are suggestions that both sides are using their proposed legislation as leverage in a series of lawsuits involving various gaming facilities who expressed interest in slot machines. This is the second consecutive session in which lawmakers have worked to reach an agreement on gambling in the state. Not only to they have to agree on the deal, it must also hold up in a federal court. Even if the two entities are able to reach a legitimate agreement, they will still have to negotiate with the Seminole’s who have expressed the opinion that neither bill will hold up against the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.