Pari-Mutuels submit a 23-page wish list for Florida special sessions to Florida lawmakers
(The Center Square) – Anti-gambling activists vow to sue, at least 20 lawmakers have already voiced their opposition, and now a pari-mutuel / gaming coalition has tabled 23 pages of changes they’d like to see.
Chances are, the Florida Legislature Gaming Special Session May 17-19 will indeed be something special.
Legislators must support the 30-year gaming pact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which Governor Ron DeSantis tentatively signed on April 23 during the special session. However, he will also debate three gaming-related bills, including a controversial proposal to “decouple” the racing requirement on some pari-mutuels.
All three bills came from the Senate’s Regulated Industries Committee, chaired by Senator Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast. You are:
- Senate Act 7076 would create a five-person Florida Gaming Control Commission within the Attorney General that would have law enforcement over gambling laws.
- SB 7078 would grant the Gaming Control Commission’s criminal investigation an exemption for public records.
- SB 7080 would allow casinos to play card games without running harness or quarter horse races or jai-alai.
Florida law currently requires live races or competitions for pari mutuel betting to take place. “Decoupling” would be permitted under SB 7080, which means that race tracks could continue to allow games such as slot machines without live races. The bill originally “decoupled” thoroughbred horse racing as well, but that was later restored.
An ad hoc coalition of equal interests in Florida and others in the state gambling industry that was not referred to as the Seminole Tribe of Florida offered lawmakers 42 “consensus changes” on Friday to digest before the session begins in 10 days .
The proposed changes include: removing the Seminole’s right to initiate an investigation by the Commission; Prohibit the nomination of persons to the commission who have received a financial advantage from tribal games or who are connected to a gambling operation of a Native American tribe.
The Group wants the Commission to have the power to inspect tribal game facilities, include tribal game facility performance in its annual report and limit the ability of the Commission to restrict games that are already taking place.
According to the consensus changes, slot machines and card rooms, which are now limited to 18 hours a day during the week, could operate around the clock.
Free alcoholic beverages and ATMs would also be available from slot machines if the operators had their way. They also want slot machine licensees to renew their licenses if hurricanes or other crises beyond their control shut down their businesses.
Other proposals include preventing the Commission from changing the rules of the game to reduce government tax revenues and grant new permits when moving would be allowed.
After two years of negotiations, DeSantis signed a 75-page paper on April 23 deal That stipulates that the Seminole tribe will pay the state at least $ 2.5 billion in the first five years of the pact.
The pact would also give the tribe exclusive control over blackjack and craps and across its seven casinos, as well as sports betting – a $ 2 billion market in Florida by 2025, according to 2019 Projections from Morgan Stanley – on its properties as well as on non-tribal pari-mutuels and through its new Hard Rock Digital platform.
By allowing the Seminoles to control sports betting, the deal would not violate Amendment 3 of 2018, according to DeSantis, lawmakers and the tribe.
As a sovereign tribal nation, the Seminole’s gambling operations are governed by India’s Gambling Regulation Act (IGRA), which allows them to bypass the mandate of Amendment 3, which requires any gambling expansion to be approved by state voters.
No dice says No casinos, which has hindered high-stakes gambling in Florida since 1978 and promises to challenge the pact in court.