Gambling Could Get Day in Court

Florida voters have said no to expanded casino in 1986 and again in 1994.

The State Senate has been holding hearings across the state. There are proposals for mega resort casinos and dog tracks say they need slots or other gambling to stay alive.

The Committee Chairman says the odds of something comprehensive passing are

"Probably no better than 50-50, at the best," said Sen. Garrett Richter.

The House Speaker’s suggesting lawmakers rewrite gambling laws this year, then require a vote of the people to make any changes after that, but he’s opened the door for sending the whole question on gambling to the public.

Gaming committee member John Thrasher says, "Anything is a possibility in this process, you know and I think there are a lot of people who think maybe we ought to freeze things in stone so that we don't have to come back every year."

Back in 1994 after spending 16 million dollars, pro-gambling forces only got 38% of the vote.

Pat Roberts ran the 1994 pro-gambling campaign. He believes voters could say yes this time, if new casinos were limited to Southeast Florida.

"My gut is that's an easier thing to get done with this legislator, because they could say we gave the people a choice in November instead of them doing it," said Pat Roberts.

Roberts may be right.

In 2004 voters statewide, by a narrow margin, allowed Miami Dade and Broward County to have their own votes on slot machines.

The Senate expects to begin adding concrete ideas to the casino proposal in mid-January.

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