Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gambling expansion bill zips through Senate committee

TALLAHASSEE — In less than an hour, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee on Wednesday authorized an expansion of gambling in Florida, that would give the Seminoles full-scale casinos with roulette wheels and craps tables while offering lighter-fare games to horse and dog tracks around the state.

"Don't kid yourself. We are a gaming state, so why wouldn't we want to be the cream of the crop rather than losing citizens going somewhere else?" said Sen. Dennis Jones, the sponsor of the two bills and chairman of the committee.

The state would reap $1 billion a year in new revenue.

Committee members did not debate before unanimously approving the proposal to give the state's 25 parimutuel facilities new gaming options. On the plan to give the Seminole Tribe full-fledged casinos, only West Palm Beach Democrat Dave Aronberg voted no.

The two proposals, which are designed to move through the process in tandem, were so loaded with changes long-sought by the state's gambling industry that one lobbyist called it a Christmas tree bill.

Included is a plan to lower the legal gambling age from 21 to 18, give parimutuels outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties the option to run electronic slot machines that pit players against each other and allow parimutuels to offer historic racing games in which people bet on the outcomes of past, unidentified horse races.

Two Tampa Bay are parimutuels — Derby Lane in St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar — could offer the electronic bingo and "instant racing" games if the bills become law.

The new games would help Derby Lanes compete against the Tampa Seminole Hard Rock Casino, said spokeswoman Vera Filipelli. "Being able to introduce those would be a big step," she said.

The Senate bill also reduces the tax rate on slot machine gaming from 50 percent to 35 percent and provides that the payout is no less than 85 percent at all facilities.

The state will get "$1 billion in recurring new general revenue, not just this year but every year," Jones said.

The Senate bill has already won the support of Crist, who said Tuesday that he was "open to any idea that will help us get the compact. … We need the money."

Times staff writer Steve Huettel contributed to this report. Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at [email protected]

Gambling expansion bill zips through Senate committee 03/25/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:05pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. One of the best places for investing in a rental house is in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    Two Tampa Bay ZIP Codes are drawing national attention.

    . If you're looking to invest in a house to rent out, few places are better than  ZIP Code 34607 in Hernando County's Spring Hill area, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
 file photo]

  2. Bucs' Vernon Hargreaves: 'I'm not making any plays'


    TAMPA — Eli Manning gathered his receivers together on the sideline during the Giants' Week 4 game against the Bucs and told them he planned to target the weakest link of the secondary all afternoon.

    Patriots receiver Chris Hogan gets position in front of Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves for a 5-yard touchdown pass in New England’s win on Oct. 5.
  3. Suspect in Maryland office park shooting is apprehended


    EDGEWOOD, Md. — A man with a lengthy criminal past who was fired from a job earlier this year for punching a colleague showed up for work at a countertop company on Wednesday and shot five of his co-workers has been arrested, authorities said. Three of them were killed and two critically wounded.

    Harford County, Md., Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler shows a picture of Radee Labeeb Prince, the suspect in the workplace shootings.
  4. Lightning's J.T. Brown to stop anthem protest, focus on community involvement

    Lightning Strikes

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lightning wing J.T. Brown will no longer raise his first as a protest during the national anthem before games.

    J.T. Brown says he will work more with the Tampa police and groups that serve at-risk young people.
  5. The two Ricks tangle at what may be final debate


    ST. PETERSBURG — In what was likely the last mayoral forum before the Nov. 7 election, Mayor Rick Kriseman and former Mayor Rick Baker started out small, discussing neighborhood issues like recycling and neighborhood funding. They ended tangling over familiar subjects: the future of the Tampa Bay Rays, sewage …

    Ex-Mayor Rick Baker, left, and Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, debated familiar topics. The Times’ Adam Smith moderated.