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Jose Felix Diaz: House will ‘take giant step’ in gambling conference

The House will make its offer Wednesday morning in the Legislature’s negotiation on a gambling bill this year, state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz told reporters Tuesday night.

“I expect to make significant progress in the conversation,” he said, without offering many details and saying the House’s offer was still in flux. “The earlier we get it out, the better.”

The House and Senate are far apart on their respective gambling bills this session, with the House holding the line on gambling expansion, and the Senate pushing for new games.

But, Diaz added, “considering that the House took a very conservative approach in its bill, most people who look at our offer will think that we took a giant step forward toward the Senate’s position on certain issues.”

“I feel very confident the Senate will be happy we’re moving and continuing the conversation,” he said.

Sen. Bill Galvano on Monday tendered the first offer, which largely maintains what’s in the Senate’s bill. It would, however, classify contentious “pre-reveal” games as slot machines, and would limit two new slots facilities to either Broward or Miami-Dade counties.

The Senate also would give the state more time, up to two years, to address any future violation of blackjack exclusivity brought by the Seminole Tribe of Florida with a legislative fix. That also was addressed to court rulings that create such “violations.”

Tribe spokesman Gary Bitner has declined to comment on the talks.

Part of this year’s package is a deal to grant continued blackjack exclusivity to the tribe in return for $3 billion over seven years, though that money isn’t part of ongoing budget talks between the House and Senate.

“I will say I’m ready to propose counters on some of the Senate’s positions—and agree to some of the Senate’s positions,” Diaz said.

 

Written By

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 jim@floridapolitics.com.

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