Florida’s 2018 senate gambling bill up for consideration…

This year’s Florida Senate gambling bill is set to be brought up for consideration by the Appropriations Committee today. The piece of legislation provides for a certain level of gambling expansion within the state, but unlike previous years, it approaches the matter in a more moderate manner this time around.

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The bill allows for the addition of slot machines in eight counties where voters had previously approved the move. However, incoming Senate President Bill Galvano told local media Thursday that there will be a certain limitation in the number of slots that will be authorized. The legislator said that they will be seeking a balance so there will be “some contraction” in the number of gaming licenses available across the state, as well.

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The House, which has its own gambling bill under consideration, has previously said that it would be looking to introduce an “absolute contraction” of gambling in Florida, local news outlet Florida Politics reports.
Sen. Galvano pointed out on Thursday that the addition of slot machines at pari-mutels where the move had been approved in referendums was something the outgoing Senate President Joe Negron has long been calling for. However, the incoming top Senate lawmaker stressed on the fact that the referendums might have not been carried out “pursuant to state law”.
SB 840, the Senate’s 2018 gambling bill, would allow decoupling for greyhound racing facilities across the state. In other words, these would be able to stop featuring live racing events but to keep other gambling options, including slots. However, horse racing tracks and jai alai frontons were excluded from the decoupling provision.

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The Tribal Compact
The Florida Legislature will also seek to reach a gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe, which operates casinos across South Florida. The state lawmakers and tribal officials have previously failed to agree on the terms of a new gambling compact, which has threatened substantial annual payments from the tribe’s casinos to the state.
The Seminoles have previously stood firmly against any form of gambling expansion that breached its exclusivity over blackjack across the state and over slot machines in South Florida. It now seems that the tribe may be willing to withdraw its continued opposition to the legalization of fantasy sports and designated-player games as per a draft agreement between its officials and state lawmakers.

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Designated-player games have previously been a big stumbling block in negotiations between the tribe and the state. These are offered at pari-mutuels around the state. The Seminoles have claimed that they have breached their blackjack exclusivity and have threatened to stop their payments to the state as part of a 2010 gambling compact.
The Florida legislative session is set to end next Friday. Sen. Galvano told local media they hope they will be able to confer with the House in a Wednesday meeting.

As mentioned above, the Senate gambling bill is slated to be considered in the Appropriations Committee later today. The House is too set to discuss its gambling bill.