Florida House passes Indian gambling proposal
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April 22, 2009
TALLAHASSEE - The House voted 84-27 to pass a revised version of Senate bill SB
788 which seeks a gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe, but guts the
Senate's key provision of granting the tribe full-blown casinos
The bill (SB 788) strips the Seminoles blackjack games, which it installed after
signing a deal with Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007, and allows only the Las
Vegas-style slot machines already installed at South Florida pari-mutuels. When
the Senate passed the bill last week, it gave the tribe full-blown casinos,
including craps and roulette.
"This is a very reasonable, conservative approach," said Rep. Bill Galvano, the
Bradenton Republican who chairs the committee that reviewed the compact issue.
However, Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville, was pessimistic that both chambers could
compromise on the gambling issue. He said "There's a possibility there will be
no compact at all this session. I can't imagine the Seminoles being interested
in the stripped down version that the House is giving. Why would they?"
The House also passed a bill aimed at helping horse and dog tracks and jai-alai
frontons. That bill (HB 7145) would expand hours and allow for bigger raises and
jackpots at pari-mutuel poker rooms. The bill passed on a 83-33 vote.
The House and Senate are both counting on revenue from Seminole casinos as part
of their budget proposals. The Senate budget includes $400 million in new
gambling money compared to only $100 million in the House plan. That doesn't
include money the tribe has already paid to the state under the deal with Crist,
which isn't being spent until the compact issue is resolved.
All sides hope to work out a budget agreement before the 60-day legislative
session ends May 1st.
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