With little ado, House passes 2018 gaming bill

Organizational session of the Florida Legislature

With only one member commenting, the House swiftly passed its omnibus gambling bill for 2018, setting up a possible conference of the two chambers.

The bill (HB 7067) was OK’d on a 70-40 vote, with Republican Halsey Beshears of Monticello and Tom Goodson of Rockledge joining the Democrats in voting ‘no.’

Bill sponsor Mike La Rosa, a St. Cloud Republican, has said he expects both chambers to go to conference on the legislation.

A proposed “voter control of gambling” constitutional amendment will be on November’s ballot; if approved, it would give statewide voters power to approve future expansions of gambling in Florida.

If they don’t get something done now, lawmakers may well be frozen out of influencing gambling.

In debate, Aventura Democrat Joe Geller objected to a ban on pre-reveal games, video consoles that look and play like slot machines.

He also said the 20-year term on a renewed Seminole Compact was too long and would “tie the hands” of future Legislatures.

Finally, he said a provision to funnel some gambling money away from traditional public education was a “poison pill” for the chamber’s Democrats.

Significant differences still separate the House and Senate: For one, the House proposal declares designated-player games, a hybrid of poker and blackjack that’s been lucrative for the pari-mutuels, to be “illegal and prohibited.” The Senate would allow them.

The Senate bill (SB 840) is available for the floor there. The 2018 Legislative Session ends Friday.

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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