Senate amendment yet to address opposition’s concerns with gaming legislation

abstract blur background of slot machine in casino club entertainment  leisure concept
Even the bill sponsor wants more clarity.

Legislation seeking to crack down on illegal gambling operations is waiting on special order calendars to be heard on the House and Senate floors.

The legislation broadly seeks to increase penalties for illegal gambling activities from a second-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony. It also would create a staggered penalty, increasing to a second-degree felony on a second offense, and a first-degree felony on third and subsequent offenses.

While both the Senate and House bills have received significant opposition from veterans’ groups and small businesses, the House bill was recently amended to provide a path to recourse should someone find themselves unknowingly in violation of the law. Specifically, the House adopted an amendment that would require a cease-and-desist letter, that can be contested, to be sent to establishments in violation before any arrests could be made. 

The House amendment was specifically mentioned during public testimony in the Senate Committee on Fiscal Policy, explaining that it affords the opportunity to educate those who are unknowingly breaking the law, whereas the Senate bill does not.

John Zachem, a subject matter expert representing the Amusement Machine Operators of Florida, spoke during the Senate committee meeting about how the Senate bill, as currently written, would greatly impact lives, saying “you can’t un-ring that bell after it has happened.”

“Throughout the bill, there are elements where there is an increased penalty, where you can’t un-ring the bell after it has happened. If you end up arresting someone for a felony, yes, you can say afterward…they have the ability to say ‘I didn’t know.’ But on so many documents these days, you have to disclose even if you are arrested for a felony…if you’re looking for a mortgage for your home, you’re affecting people being able to do that. For some of the folks that end up having pensions, that serve in the military, they could be affected, just from an arrest. So yes, you can prove it after the fact, but at that point, the bell is already rung. You’ve already affected people’s lives.”

Some committee members remained in opposition to the legislation due to the potential for unintended consequences to unsuspecting employees.

“The amendment that was just mentioned by one of the speakers, who is against the bill, in the House…it made some changes. I am in favor of those changes. The Gaming Commission is in favor of those changes. I look forward to amending this bill or taking on the House version if that’s off the floor before this one is. The goal is to make sure there is some clarity. The goal is not to throw people in prison who are not knowingly committing crimes,” bill sponsor Sen. Jonathan Martin said.

However, amendments filed since Martin’s closing statement have yet to match the House amendment discussed during the meeting. Rather, the amendment filed, that has yet to be adopted, adds in the cease-and-desist letter, but does not provide an avenue for individuals or businesses to contest the cease-and-desist, meaning concerns voiced during the Senate committee meeting have yet to be addressed. 

“In the last committee hearing in the House, the 48-hour cease-and-desist amendment made the legislation better,” Stuart Scott, Legislative Chairman for the American Legion Department of Florida, said. “However, the Senate amendment still doesn’t have the pertinent clarity that veteran organizations have been seeking from the Gaming Commission. Nor does this lessen the impacts veterans’ groups and their volunteers who could still be unknowingly subject to significant criminal impacts if the Senate bill were to pass as written.”

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Defunding Fort florida

    February 28, 2024 at 5:45 am

    Gambling is PERFECTLY suited for the lowlifes of dangerous florida

    Another building to commit crimes in front of, like 7-11, Amazon warehouses and Publix.

    • Blaise Ingolia is an f'ing moron

      February 28, 2024 at 11:13 am

      Speaking of lowlifes, the former chair of the Florida GOP and current state senator Blaise Ingoglia is a gambling addict who has been suspected of using tax payer dollars at the casino.

      The GOP is corrupt all the way through.

  • Federal Prison Florida SuperMax

    February 28, 2024 at 6:04 am

    21 million mouth-breathing, credit-less troglodytes.

    16,000 abortions every 90 days according to your own Dept of Health.

    But the Christian Nationalists gang in your prison-peninsula isn’t going to allow much longer.

    How will you feed and shelter another 80,000 a year?

  • Dont Say FLA

    February 28, 2024 at 8:11 am

    Every drive is a gamble. Every June 1 through November 30 is a gamble. Every day at school is a double gamble***. Every trip to the mall is a gamble. Every grocery shopping excursion is a gamble. Taking in Dune 2 this weekend is a gamble. Going dancing is a gamble. Even parking your boat it is own parking spot at the dock is a gamble.

    So why not have gambling where sometimes, however rarely it might be, but sometimes, once in a while, somebody might actually win something rather than “the win” being mere survival of one’s day in Florida?

    *** double gamble = preventable diseases and also-preventable mass shootings

Comments are closed.


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