State Senate Panel Approves Expansion of Gambling

     A major expansion of gambling in Florida is moving ahead in the State Senate.


     A Senate panel has  approved a measure that would legalize fantasy sports and allow the Seminole Tribe of Florida to offer craps and roulette at its casinos. It would also expand slot  machines across the state.


   State senators barely debated the bill (SB 8) sponsored by Sen. Bill Galvano. That's a sign that the legislation is a top priority for Senate leaders and could be approved by the full Senate when the session formally starts in March.


    During the last few years, major proposals to expand gambling have died due to infighting among the gambling industry and lawsuits filed by the Seminole Tribe. The state wishes to expand gambling while the tribe wants to maintain exclusivity in some areas for a competitive advantage.  At the same time, the state welcomes the revenue provided by the tribe. 


     It's unclear if the Florida House will go along, since House Speaker Richard Corcoran has been a staunch opponent to expanded gambling.


     Gaming attorney and analyst, Mark Dunbar says that the compact with the Seminole Tribe needs to be renegotiated in order for the State Initiatives to pass.  “ There is a three legged stool, the legislature, the Governor and the third leg is definitely the Seminole Tribe. Those three groups are going to have to get together and hash out a new document.”

Photo Credit Peter Macdiarmiel 

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