Senate proposes gambling package with constitutional amendment
The long-awaited Senate gambling proposal was released today with a package of three bills creating a Department of Gaming Control while authorizing the governor to do what he is required by federal law to do -- negotiate a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, creating new records exemptions for gaming entities, and a new constutitional amendment requiring that any additional gambling expansion receive voter approval.
This appears to put the ball in the governor's court, as we have been writing for the last month, requiring him to use the power of the compact to negotiate any changes in gaming expansion.
Destination resort casinos, as expected, are authorized -- one in Miami Dade and one in Broward -- to provide "additional entertainment choices for the residents of and visitors to this state, to promote tourism, and to provide additional state revenues by authorizing the playing of certain games."
Here are the bills:
* Gaming control -- SPB 7052 the authorization of destination resort casinos, to be chosen and regulated by a Gaming Control Board; transferring the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to the Gaming Control Board within the Department of Gaming Control by type two transfer; transferring the Pari-mutuel Wagering Trust Fund within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to the Department of Gaming Control by type two transfer, etc.
* Constitutional amendment -- SPB 7050
* Public records exemption for gaming control -- SPB 7054
Here is the letter to committee staff by Sen. Garrett Richter:
The attached PDF document includes not only Senator Richter’s memorandum, but also tracing tables for SPB 7052.
THE FLORIDA SENATE
COMMITTEE ON GAMING
Senator Garrett Richter, Chair
Senator Maria Sachs, Vice Chair
Senate’s Website: www.flsenate.gov
Members of the Senate Committee on Gaming
Senator Garrett Richter, Chair
Proposed committee bills posted online and listed on the March 3 meeting agenda
February 24, 2014
Senate Gaming Committee staff published three separate proposed committee bills today:
- SPB 7050: Gambling—A joint resolution proposing an amendment to the State Constitution that any additional gambling authorized by law will not take effect until a public ballot measure is approved by a majority of voters statewide;
- SPB 7052: Gaming—A comprehensive act relating to gaming;
- SPB 7054: Public Records/Gaming Control—Providing an exemption for proprietary confidential business information in specified applications.
The bills are posted online (http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bills) and are included in the notice for the Senate Gaming Committee meeting on Monday, March 3, 2014 (1:30 until 3:30 PM).
The committee will not vote to introduce any of the bills at the March 3 meeting. Rather, I will present the bills and answer questions. Then, over a series of several meetings, we will take time to answer your questions, consider amendments, and finally introduce bills that are well crafted and thoroughly vetted. The committee will decide whether the number of meetings required is two, three, or more.
SPB 7052, relating to gaming, is 453 pages. As was previewed at our committee meetings on February 3 and February 10, it:
- Creates a Joint Legislative Gaming Control Oversight Committee with jurisdiction over gaming control and the state lottery;
- Creates a new Department of Gaming Control, headed by a 5-member board appointed by the Governor (transfers the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering from DBPR);
- Authorizes the Governor to negotiate amendments to the Seminole Gaming Compact, subject to ratification by the Legislature;
- Substantially expands ch. 551, Fla. Stat. to include not only slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities, but also:
- Pari-mutuel wagering (transferred from ch. 550);
- Cardrooms (transferred from s. 849.086);
- Destination casino resorts;
- Authorized games (e.g., charitable bingo, commercial sweepstakes, amusement arcades, bowling tournaments, and penny-ante games; transferred from ch. 849);
- Authorizes the Gaming Control Board to issue “invitations to negotiate” for awarding one destination casino resort in Miami-Dade County and one destination casino resort in Broward County, subject in each county to approval in a countywide referendum;
- Updates specifications and prize limits for amusement games or machines;
- Provides for injury reporting at greyhound tracks or kennels; and
- Requires a greyhound racing facility operating a cardroom to conduct a full schedule of live races (instead of 90 percent of the number of races in the prior year).
My instructions to professional staff were to reform the current patchwork of laws into an orderly structure and to avoid making substantive changes other than in the few areas described above. The proposed committee bill organizes regulatory, tax, and purse provisions by industry, making requirements and exceptions much easier to comprehend. It also repeals some provisions that our professional staff determined to be obsolete.
Staff is aware of many other provisions that would be good candidates for rewrite or repeal, but those changes were not made in the initial draft. The committee will have ample opportunity in the weeks ahead to consider such changes as amendments. That way, any proposed substantive changes will be transparent, and committee members will have ample opportunities to debate policy implications.
The attached table links provisions in SPB 7052 with source provisions in current law. It will be a helpful companion for decoding how the provisions of current law were rearranged and rewritten.