House committee rejects attempt to put gaming compact to statewide vote
The House Regulatory Affairs Committee meeting is off and running, as they take up three high-profile bills aimed at rewriting the state's gaming laws and ratifying the compact negotiated between Gov. Rick Scott and the Seminole Tribe.
First up, Rep. Mike Miller, R-Orlando, offered a rewrite of the compact, putting a cap on the number of slots the tribe can offer, giving blackjack to them for the next 15 years -- but not including craps and roulette and clarifying that they may not relocated their existing gambling facilities.
"I feel the legislative perogative for the members of this committee and the body fo thewhole is ot particcipate in the agreement with the Seminole Tribe,'' he said.
Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, sponsor of the bill to ratify the compact, said he will work on need for clarification about what happens within the reservations but the rest of it could interfere with the amount of money that the state gets. "You can't negotiate more money for the same deal,'' he said. "I understand these are all three important isseus that continue to be discussed with the fundamental parts of this bill."
Paul Seago of No Casinos, argued that the gambling compact "allows for a major expansion of gambling on tribal property and off." He notes it allows the tribe to "the most slot machines in the world" so that it can have more slot machines than any Las Vegas operator and in places never intended by voters when they authorized slot machines in Miami-Dade and Broward in 2004.
Miller then withdrew the amendment.
Rep. John Wood, R-Lakeland, offered an amendment to require the public the ratify the compact.
"The spirit of gaming expansion in our state, over the last 20 or 30 years, has been very very cautious, with the full approval of the voters or constituents,'' he said, nothing that many attempts at expansion has been defeated at the ballot box. "This goes to the central focus here of gaming. What do we want for our state. I'm convinced Florida doesn't need gaming and the people who advocate for gaming need us, but we don't need them."
The amendment was defeated.