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Gambling Divides Capitol

March 30th, 2009 by Mike Vasilinda

The battle over high stakes gambling is heating up in the state Capitol. Florida could reap anywhere from a hundred million to a billion dollars a year, depending on which plan wins, but as Mike Vasilinda tells us, neither the House or the Senate seem to be holding the winning hand.

The state Senate envisions roulette and craps being added to the list of gaming at Seminole Indian reservations. Pari-mutuels in Miami Dade and Broward would get high stakes poker and black jack, while dog tracks and Jai Alai statewide would get video lottery games. The plan raises a billion dollars a year.

But the House, which heard about the evils of gambling from a researcher, wants to end black jack and other card games Charlie Crist negotiated with the Seminole Tribe.

The Governor wants the Senate plan.

The package that they have been able to put together could generate about a billion dollars without any taxes,” Governor Charlie Crist said.

The leadership of the Christian right came to town to lambaste the expansion of gambling, saying it creates losers not winners.

Its estimated that Floridians will have to lose 7 billion dollars to produce the one billion promised for state coffers, Dennis Baxley with the Christian Coalition said.

And in a rare news conference, the House Speaker deflected questions about how far his chamber would go toward compromise.

The way that we have read it, obviously that the Class 3 slots are what they are entitled to,” House Speaker Larry Cretul said.

The House and the Senate are so far apart on gambling, that they may not resolve the issue in the 35 days that remain. And that means the Governor may have to call them back.

So the battle is between ideology and show me the money.

The Christian Leaders have traditionally opposed raising new taxes, but today conceded that taxes would be preferable to increased gambling.

Posted in Charlie Crist, Gambling, Legislature, State Budget, State News | No Comments »

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