Florida bill introduced

A comprehensive bill to reform gambling in the US state of Florida has been introduced.

Saying he wants to avoid the arguments that have hampered previous efforts, Bill Galvano, president of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States, has launched a bill that offers “something for everyone.”

Galvano introduced Senate Bill 8 two months before the legislature convenes, saying he wants to give all sides time to compromise. The bill would allow major slots expansion, allow blackjack in South Florida pari-mutuel card rooms, deal with daily fantasy sports and offer a new gaming compact to the Seminole Indians.

It would amend the Seminole compact to allow tribes to offer craps, roulette and blackjack at all their casinos in the state in exchange for dropping its lawsuits and accepting revised exclusivity on slots, blackjack, player-banked games, point-of-sale terminals and daily fantasy sports.

It would allow up to 25 blackjack tables in South Florida pari-mutuels with revenues taxed at 25 per cent and reduce the slot tax paid by pari-mutuels from 35 to 25 per cent, as well as allowing player-banked games at all pari-mutuels.

The bill would also expand slots beyond Broward and Dade counties by allowing slots at pari-mutuels in counties that pass slot referendums. So far, six counties have passed such referendums. Slot licences would be limited to pari-mutuels that have conducted a full live racing schedule for two consecutive years.

Other changes would be: one extra slot licence in each of Broward and Miami-Dade counties; a reduction in the number of pari-mutuel permits by allowing the state to buy back and cancel active permits; the removal of the requirement for pari-mutuels to hold live racing in order to conduct gaming; the legalisation of daily fantasy sports; and the permitting of point-of-sale machines for lottery tickets, such as at gas pumps.

The bill’s fate looks uncertain with the House preferring a contraction of gaming and the Seminoles saying a loss of gambling exclusivity would mean an end of their compact, thus an end of payments to the state.