The state of Florida offers several aspects of gambling for residents and visitors to enjoy, with two options being poker and dog racing. Both components of the state’s gambling industry could be affected as a recent package of legislation changes was approved by the Florida House Regulatory Affairs Committee.
The Panama City News Herald’s Dara Kam, reported that the changes would see poker rooms and dog racing become separate entities. Currently, the poker rooms have to be part of dog race tracks, and only if the track has an active race card to be an operator. Along with the House, the Senate has approved a similar version of the measure.
House Bill 1233 is different from the Senate bill 7088 as it has language to support the potential for resort-style gaming facilities to be created within the state. The House bill includes language that will allow a year’s extension to see voters in Miami-Dade and Broward have their say as to if they would like casinos to be created in their areas.
In the report, the House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman, a sponsor of the House amendment, stated that the additional language of the casino resort options keeps the issue on the agenda and in play. Workman continued by stating that if these counties want the casino facilities then they need to say so. Conflicting reports state that they are those who are for such gaming facilities while others are not, so Workman wants voters to have their say so something can be done.
Back to the poker/dog race portion of the bill, the separation of both would have an impact especially where the tracks are concerned. Poker rooms would need to stand on their own without the support of pari-mutuel wagering on dog/horse races which could create a better poker industry within the state. Since dog tracks had to offer a certain number of races which can result in greyhound injuries, of which the tracks are often scrutinized, the tracks would be allowed to host less races and ensure the health of the dogs. This would allow race tracks that want to solely focus on the game of poker, be able to do so.
The House and Senate amendments are in the early stages and the Seminole Tribe must also be consider as they will most likely be in opposition to any measure that involves gaming within the state. It will be interesting to see if the tribe comes forward with an opinion of these proposed changes within the state.
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