State Legislature continues push for new gambling legislation

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - The Florida Legislature is continuing its push for what could be its last shot at passing new gambling legislation without voter approval, but the odds of anything passing are dwindling.

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The House and Senate are continuing efforts to pass a gaming package this session.

The Senate’s proposal extends the Seminole compact until 2040 and allows dog tracks and certain horse tracks to decouple, which means they can stop running races and still hold card games

Carey Theil of Grey2K USA said, “It's good that the two chambers are working on a bill, it's good that they're talking an negotiating.”

The Senate wants to to allow the eight counties where voters have approved slot machines to get them. The Supreme Court has said the referendums were not the final say.

Mayor Pro-Tem Helen Franks-Reed said, “We are like I said, one of the poorest cities in the state of Florida I believe and we need your help. We desperately need this casino to help bring us up.”

A proposed constitutional amendment on the the November ballot would require voters to approve any future change to the state’s gambling laws, potentially making this lawmakers last chance to pass something on their own.

But the House doesn’t allow decoupling or the expansion of slots.

Representative Mike La Rosa said, “If the help was coming in the way of slot machines, this bill does not do that.”

Last month Senate sponsor Travis Hutson said the potential for a gaming package passing was about 50-50.

“Timing is everything right now so it's probably a little less than that," said Senator Hutson

With the two Chambers moving further apart chances of anything passing are dwindling.

“It's not over until it's over so we'll go into conference optimistic and see what happens,” Hutson continued.

If the bills keep moving, lawmakers will have just a few days to mend the vast divides between the two proposals, something they haven’t been able to do in a decade.

One of the few similarities between the House and Senate proposals is that the both would classify pre-reveal games as slot machines.