Lawmakers heading to Arizona for gambling conference

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Eight Florida lawmakers have signed up to attend this weekend’s meeting of the National Council of Legislators from Gaming States in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The three-day conference, to include a keynote address from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, is being held at the 4-star Hotel Valley Ho.

On the RSVP list:

— State Rep. Halsey Beshears, a Monticello Republican. His district includes the old Jefferson County Kennel Club, a track that once offered greyhound racing and poker but is now closed.

— State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami-Dade Republican. He chairs the House Commerce Committee, which oversees gambling policy.

— State Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican. Galvano has long been involved in gambling issues, having helped draft the 2010 Seminole Compact, the gambling agreement between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state.

— State Rep. Joe Geller, an Aventura Democrat. He’s the Democratic Ranking Member of the House Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee.   

— State Sen. Audrey Gibson, a Jacksonville Democrat. She’s a member of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, which oversees gambling-related legislation.

— State Rep. Mike LaRosa, a St. Cloud Republican. He chairs the House Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee.

— State Rep. David Richardson, a Miami-Dade Democrat.

— State Sen. Perry Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat. He’s also a member of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, and is chair of the Council’s Committee on State-Federal Relations. He will lead a panel on “Jurisdiction, Legality over Emerging Forms of Gambling,” including daily fantasy sports.

A disclosure on the Council’s website says the conference is “organized and produced” by New Jersey-based Spectrum Gaming Group. The consulting firm won a $400,000 contract in 2013 to study the “present and future effects of gambling in Florida.”

One of its early findings: Gambling will keep growing with or without direction from lawmakers, because Florida already is a big gambling state.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


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