House gambling bill teed up for next week


The Florida House of Representatives quietly released its gambling overhaul for 2017 Thursday afternoon, setting it for a hearing next Thursday.

As expected, the 81-page bill (PCB TGC 17-01) includes a renewed blackjack deal, or “compact,” between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, as first struck by Gov. Rick Scott.

No Casinos, the anti-gambling expansion group, soon tweeted: “Still analyzing bill, but at first blush @MyFLHouse seems to have found a way to renew compact without turning FL into Vegas/Atlantic City.”

But the House already is at odds with the Senate’s 112-page measure (SB 8), which is set for its second and last committee hearing next week before the Appropriations panel.

In one significant example, the House bill outlaws designated-player card games, but the Senate would let “all cardroom operators … offer designated player games.”

In banked card games, players bet against the “house,” or the casino, and not each other. In traditional poker, people play against each other for a pot of money. Designated-player games are a hybrid, where the bank is supposed to revolve among the players.

Moreover, the House would prohibit the expansion of slot machines, retroactively to Jan. 1 of this year, by barring state regulators from issuing any new slots licenses.

The Senate generally expands the availability of slot machines, including allowing “any licensed pari-mutuel facility” to get slots.

Last month, House Speaker Richard Corcoran suggested his chamber’s approach to gambling would be different.

“I’ve seen the (Senate) bill, and look, it’s not where we’re at,” Corcoran told reporters. “The three things we’ve said are, it has to be a contraction (of gambling) … we want a constitutional amendment that bans the expansion of gaming; the Senate’s said they have no interest … and we have courts that keep encroaching upon our ability to make those decisions.”

The House Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee will hear the bill next Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in a meeting scheduled for two and a half hours. Its chair, St. Cloud Republican Mike La Rosa, could not be immediately reached.

And the Senate Appropriations Committee will hear its chamber’s bill that same day at 9 a.m.

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]


  • Fixx

    February 17, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    The House Bill is a POS. The senate Bill is fair to all involved. the House bill only favor the Seminole Tribe. Vote no on the House Bill.

  • Eric Keaton

    February 19, 2017 at 3:02 am

    A non-starter vs. a deal-breaker. The House is making an attempt to alter the Seminole’s Order of Operations and the Senate is hoping to expand gambling in Florida in every sense.

    Neither will pass and the only thing happening will be the state negotiating how much money they will get from the Seminoles for allowing them to offer Roulette and Craps and for however many years.

    Judge Hinkle ruled that them Seminoles can have Blackjack till 2o3o, so there goes that 3 billion Gov. Scott and the Tribe settled on last year. On top of that, even if every county voted yes on slots, no one would get to install anything until that 2o yr Compact runs out in 13 yrs, no rush.

    Florida violated the compacts exclusivity clause and then takes the compact, rewords it, and structures it so that florida can operate in full violation of the original document.? I just don’t see that as acceptable. The senates bill is just there walking the mile and are we gonna watch the Seminoles break the House.?

    But what will happen is that Roulette and Craps are coming to the Hard Rock and within the following 2 decades Palm Beach, Jacksonville, Naples and probably even Bradenton will be spinning roulette wheels. Disney will be trading at 2oo and Trump will be a distant memory.

  • Ken

    February 20, 2017 at 4:47 am

    Blackjack needs to happen in all non Seminole casinos, in order for the games to get better and Seminoles to stop dealing from short shoes. I am so tired of having to fly to Puerto Rico, Bahamas, and Reno to make a living. Without competition, the Seminoles will continue to offer shiddy games, with rigged shoes. This is a free country right? Florida still part of that country, or no?

Comments are closed.


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