Gambling Deal Falls Thru as Florida Senate & House Can’t Agree

by Jim Hall

FloridaA deal that would have created a new casino in Miami is not to be as the state Senate and House cannot seem to agree on legalities.

In Florida, there have been several discussions as of late when it comes to gambling. From a new compact needed with the Seminole Tribe to a casino being created in Miami, a great deal in the on the table. As far as the new gaming venue is concerned for Miami, it is not going to happen as legislators in the state House and Senate cannot come to an agreement on the matter.

Deal Falls Thru

At least one new casino would have been created in Miami if legislators had been able to agree on the matter, along with roulette and craps being permitted within the gaming venues of the Seminole Tribe of the state. Eight more counties of the state would have been given authorization to offer slot machine gaming, but all of this fell through yesterday after months of working on gambling legislation.

The Florida House and Senate have been working on competing legislation in regards to the state gambling industry for months now. Negotiators decided to declare an impasse yesterday as they saw no hope in resolving the issue by this Friday. The 60 day session of legislation will be coming to an end on that day. Senator Bill Galvano announced that the legislation is dead with other lawmakers stating that there were too many unresolved issues to be able to move forward.

What Could Have Been

If the Legislature had been able to pass the new gaming bill and created an agreement with the Seminole Tribe, Florida would have been able to see an additional $250 to $300 million in annual revenues. Lawmakers were trying to create a new deal that would clarify the gaming laws of the state. These laws have been weakened by several legal challenges as well as loopholes and court decisions within the past few years.

The main problem behind the bill not moving forward seems to be the slot machine issues. In the past, voters of the state voted yes for slot machines to be allowed at dog and horse racing tracks of the state, in eight counties. The House wanted to ban such gaming from being allowed even after voters had provided authorization. The House also wanted to see court rulings reversed that would allow the pari-mutuels to offer designated player games which is a popular alternative to poker are gaming.

However, the Senate wanted to see the counties able to proceed with gaming as they voted to do so. Senate President Joe Negron pointed out that the point is that the will of the voter needs to be respected. Negron stated that residents voted in approval and the gaming bill has to respect that decision to allow the gaming opportunity to take place.

Reportedly, this is a philosophical issue within the House as gambling affects the adjacent counties and cities and not just the jurisdictions where the gaming is allowed. Voters passed a referendum statewide to allow slot machine gaming to take place in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The gaming bill falling short also prevents the Genting group from creating a casino in the city of Miami. The group had plans to use the old Miami Herald building to create a new gaming venue.

Overall, gaming still has a long way to go in the state to solve issues as well as work on trying to make changes or bring in additional revenues in other ways within the industry. It will be interesting to see how the state progresses in the future and if the House and Senate will be able to finally come to some kind of agreement on such matters.