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Lawmakers Feeling Lucky on the Prospect of Passing Gambling Bill

February 13th, 2018 by Jake Stofan

The State Senate is moving forward with sweeping gambling reform in the state.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran says gaming is the one issue where the chances of seeing legislation pass is either 1% or 99% depending on the day.

 

After unanimous approval from a Senate Committee Monday, Sponsor of this year’s attempt Senator Travis Hutson says he gives it a fifty-fity shot.

 

There’s a new urgency this year. If passed, a constitutional amendment slated for the November ballot would require lawmakers to put any future changes to gambling in front of voters.

 

“We do want to get something done. In my opinion no is not an option this year. We have to figure out how to solve this, this year,” said Senator Kelli Stargel.

The Senate’s current proposal includes a new 20-year deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

It allows them to add craps and roulette, in exchange for $3 billion over the next seven years.

It also allows fantasy sports in the state, which the tribe opposes. Hutson says it’s about give and take.

 

“Certainly when you add craps and roulette to the mix, which is something they want, there’s definitely a deal to be made and it’s about getting into the details of that deal,” said Hutson.

The Senate’s bill would allow dog tracks and certain horse tracks to stop running races, but still host card rooms.

It could be seen by the House as an expansion of gambling, something the Speaker has vowed to never do.

Hutson argues it’s actually a contraction of gambling.

 

“There are less bets that are going to be made on dogs, on jai alai, on quarter horses,” said Hutson.

The Senate proposal also designates pre-reveal games as slot machines. Currently the legality of the games is making its way through the judicial system.

The Senate bill has one more committee stop before a vote on the Senate floor.

Senator Hutson anticipates negotiations with the House will begin soon, in hopes of finding middle ground by the end of session in March.

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