With an eye toward intense negotiations that could take up precious time in a legislative session that is nearly half over, both chambers of the state Legislature are rushing their gambling bills toward completion.
On Thursday, the Senate voted 32-6 to pass its version of a gambling deal, a broad measure that would give South Florida pari-mutuels blackjack, slot machines to counties that vote in favor of them, craps and roulette to Seminole Tribe casinos and allow pari-mutels to end racing but continue to operate casinos.
The House version, which passed its final committee hearing 19-11 Thursday, does none of those things. Instead, it halts gambling where it is but demands increased payments from the Seminole Tribe while not offering new exclusive rights to games such as craps and roulette.
The Seminoles maintain the House bill violates the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, which requires that increases in payments to states must come with new concessions by the state. The tribe’s agreement to a state gambling deal is necessary for Florida to collect potentially billions of dollars from them.