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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Casino resort bill dies one death in Senate committee



An attempt by Las Vegas' largest casino operators to bring resort-style casinos to to Florida died Wednesday when a Senate committee killed the bill on a tie vote, amid discussion that the promise of new revenue wasn't worth the trade-off of expanded gambling.

"It's not dead,'' said Nick Iarossi, lobbyist for the Las Vegas Sands which has been promoting the legislation with hopes of building a resort and casino to Miami. Because the Senate Finance and Tax Committee's 3-3 vote took place after the meeting was scheduled to adjourn, he said that the vote didn't count and the committee could return to the measure at a future meeting.

"I don't think they have the votes,'' said Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale after the meeing. Bogdanoff was among three supporters of the bill that included Sen. Gwen Margolis, D-Miami and Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach. Voting against the bill were Sens. Jim Norman, R-Tampa, Thad Altman, R-Melbourne and Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando.

Bogdanoff said that had Sen. J.D. Alexander been present at the meeting, he would have provided a fourth no vote to kill the measure outright. But Iarossi said he hopes to persuade Altman and Alexander to give it a second chance.

Iarossi noted that the "lack of movement in the House has definitely harmed our momentum,'' he said, noting that since Rep. Steve Bovo, chairman of the House Business and Consumer Affairs Committee, resigned to run for Miami-Dade County Commission, his committee has been in limbo and the bill was scheduled to be heard there. "This isn't something we want to ram down everyone's throat,'' Iarossi said. "We're definitely in a difficult situation."

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 12:03pm]


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