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Florida House Committee Passes Gambling Bill

- March 22, 2017 By Oliver Young -

Two contradicting bills now to be considered by Florida lawmakers.

The bill proposed by Mike La Rosa offers a solution for the Seminole tribe Blackjack problem.

About a year ago, lawmakers in Florida didn’t even get to decide on the proposed gambling bills, but that certainly didn’t put off gambling proponents from the idea at least to introduce gambling legislation to the Florida House.

Almost a year later new legislation was introduced and this time it reached the House of Representatives. And now, the gambling bill was got the approval of the House Committee whose members voted in favour of the proposal. However, the law that was passed, HB 7037, sponsored by Mike La Rosa is hardly going to introduce anything new and change the state’s gambling milieu, as it basically guarantees that the current situation will be unaltered.

This bill is practically the opposite of the bill proposed by Bill Galvano with the aim to actually change the legal situation in the state and be a step further towards full gambling legalisation in the state.

It Aims to Solve the Seminole Tribe Problem

The bill that was just passed by a majority of 11 to 7 was approved by the House Tourism and Gaming Control Subcommittee in February. The Representative who proposed the bill, La Rosa chairs the mentioned subcommittee. The next stop for this bill on its way to the House is the Commerce Committee.

One of the problems that this bill aims to solve is the quarrel between the state of Florida and the Seminoles, a tribe who operates several casinos throughout the state. The tribe was granted licence to offer Blackjack games for a period of 5 years. The five-year period drew to an end in 2015, but the tribe kept the Blackjack tables, claiming that the state didn’t obey the contract as it permitted pari-mutuel facilities to offer games that are extremely similar to Blackjack.

The legal battle is ongoing and there have been several lawsuits involving the state and the tribe. Despite efforts on both sides, no solution for the problem has been developed. Under the current bill the tribe should keep its exclusive position, but it will be liable to pay $3 billion to the state for the next seven year period.

Two Contradicting Bills in Procedure in Florida

Considering that the Seminoles had to pay an amount a lot smaller than the one mentioned above, it is clear that they are not looking too favourably on this piece of legislation, even though it gives them what they have been asking for.

The other proposal, the bill proposed by Florida Senator Galvano gives the tribe permission to place more tables, including tables for games like Roulette and Craps, but without giving them a monopolu on the games.

The HB 7037 aims to solve not only the tribal problem, but it also contains several other propositions. The bill would not require pari-mutuels to stop offering horse and greyhound racing in favour of casinos. Adding slot machines would not been permitted in certain counties where there has been a county referendum on the issue. Galvano’s bill on the other hand supports a state-wide legalisation of that type of gambling.

If this bill passes the next committee it would mean that there would two contradicting bills that the lawmakers would have to consider and choose the one which they think is better.

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