Florida Lawmakers debate measures that could Re-shape casino Industry

Re-Blogged by Greg Roselli

In Florida’s 2014 legislative session beginning in the spring, lawmakers will debate a number of gaming-related measures that could reshape the state’s casino industry for the foreseeable future. If, like previous years, the debate results in another stalemate in the House and/or Senate, a bill being pushed by House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, and Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, could send the decision to voters in the fall. "I think we have seen ‘gaming creep.” Weatherford noted, “The Legislature has not had its hands on the wheel when it comes the gaming laws of the state of Florida.” Recall, in addition to Florida’s existing slot parlors in Broward and Miami-Dade counties and Native American casinos in South Florida and Tampa, international developers have been pushing for multi-billion dollar “destination casinos” in some of the state’s most populated and tourist-heavy areas and have invested hundreds of millions of dollars toward that end. Commercial interests in Orlando and legislators from the more-conservative districts in Northern Florida continue to strongly oppose gaming expansion in the state.

In addition to potential destination casinos, lawmakers will debate expanded pari-mutuel wagering, future tax rates on the industry, tribal compacts, regulation and the creation of a stronger gaming commission to oversee the growing industry.