Will There Be a Revamp for the Florida Gambling Industry?
Apr 29, 2015
The future of gambling and blackjack in the state of Florida is remains uncertain because of constantly emerging obstacles in its way.
The vote by the House Finance and Tax committee was in favor of the revision of Florida gambling laws. Five Democrats and five Republicans voted for it and Seven Republicans and one Democrat were against it. However, the debate over the future of gambling and about blackjack in the state continues as the lawmakers create more and more difficulties in the form of provisions.
House Speaker, Steve Crisafulli introduced a new legislator before the Finance and Tax Committee voted. The new member, from the Republican Party, was added in order to help pass the new amendment. This bill would allow resorts in Miami-Dade and Broward, slot machines in Palm Beach and Lee counties, destination resorts in Miami-Dade and Broward, and the end of greyhound racing across in Florida.
Only a few days until the session ends
There are only a few days left in the legislative session and one more committee is scheduled to deliberate on the measures. House Republican Leader Dana Young, the Tampa state representative supporting the bill, explained that the barrel racing permission “simply prevents any further litigation” over the game. When she was asked to comment on the bill`s chances in this session, she said “one step at a time.”
As mentioned, the bill has a provision, by which barrel racing, previously ruled by Florida courts, would not be an actual form of gambling anymore. Previously, Gretna Racing center tried to organize barrel racing as a pari-mutuel betting so they can extend their business with slots and a card room, which bring more profit.
Slot machines at greyhound tracks
Based on the current form of the bill, Lee and Palm Beach counties would be permitted to install slot machines at greyhound tracks. Also, it would erase the obligation of dog tracks to run live races in order to be allowed to offer other gambling services, such as card rooms and slot machines. Furthermore, it includes the setup of a gambling commission in the state, according to casino gambling news.
The counties would be allowed to organize non-binding polls for future casino destinations. Previously there was a provision allowing two such casinos in South Florida, but it was removed from the bill. Unused, old permits would be taken form pari-mutuel horse and dog tracks and the exchange of permits would be banned.
Animal rights activists sought for this provision, since every three days a dog dies at these tracks because of injuries related to racing. In the United States there are only 20 tracks open, and from these 12 is in Florida with 4000 races yearly.
The bill suggested by Young overlooked the Seminole Compact, which was an agreement of the state and Seminole Tribe of Florida. This agreement gives exclusive blackjack rights for the tribe for a guaranteed minimum payment of $1 billion. These payments would stop with the mentioned expansion of gaming.
Blackjack is available in five of the seven casinos owned by the tribe. Tampa Hard Rock Hotel and Casino are among those. The agreement, expiring in July, may not be extended since the governor of Florida, Rick Scott and the tribal leaders have cannot decide on the terms of the renewal. Young’s bill would require two mega-casinos to pay a millions yearly and invest $2 billion in development.
Possible extension of the blackjack deal with the Seminoles
There was another bill introduced to the committee, which recommends that the Seminoles should may shuffle Blackjack cards for one plus year until a new agreement is achieved. But this would also overwrite the exclusive right of the Seminoles to slot machine gambling. The contract between the state of Florida and the Seminoles allows slots at pari-mutuels in the counties of Broward and Miami-Dade.
There are still many steps before the House bill is accepted. Charles Van Zant who voted against the measure, said that it will be hard to authorize the bill. He added that Lawmakers shouldn’t be involved in gambling they should only tax it.
Based on the compact, the Seminoles are obliged to stop offering blackjack games 90 days after the specified date. A key senator representing Hillsborough County, already expressed his support towards the extension of the agreement, just like a variation of blackjack strategies. This would permit the Seminole Tribe of Florida to offer blackjack at their casinos. Some industry lobbyist suggest an additional year or two to the contract. The legislative session is scheduled to end on May 1st and unfortunately the gaming bills came up in the last days it. But even if the contract ends up prolonged, they still have to wait for the tribe`s regulators to approve it.