Special Session of Gaming in Florida Starts Today

Todays News

Image from Pixabay

It’s barely been two weeks since the Florida Legislature wrapped up its regular legislative session. Now lawmakers are back in Tallahassee for a special session on a gaming agreement with the Seminole Tribe. But there will be more issues about gambling that arise.

“This will be an interesting week and I’m keeping an open mind on everything and currently reading all the bills that dropped recently,” said Rep. Will Robinson, R-Bradenton. “We have several gaming bills in this special session, not just one of the compact.”

He noted a House select subcommittee today will hear all bills filed so far shortly after lawmakers are gaveled back into session. Robinson in the past has pursued legislation to limit expansion of electronic gambling in Florida, which will be addressed in session.

And what of the arcades and electronic gaming establishments that have popped up in greater number over the past decade? So far there’s nothing addressing that directly. But Sen. Jim Boyd, R-Bradenton, notes a gaming commission has been proposed in legislation.

“While I’m still not certain arcades are presently allowed under law, the legislation before us next week does not deal with the issue. The Gaming Commission being proposed, if passed, may have jurisdiction after it becomes law.”

The biggest issue remains a 30-year compact with the Seminole Tribe, which owns the Hard Rock Casino locations and other Florida establishments. A proposed compact could newly allow sports betting. If approve, a deal could generate billions for the state but it also has many anti-gambling interests concerned, including backers of the No Casinos amendment passed in Florida’s Constitution in 2018.

And a number of business interests have expressed frustration at the inequity of major operations like the Hard Rock offering gambling the Seminole Tribe, as a sovereign indigenous nation, can offer that other businesses legally cannot. Meanwhile, voters in Florida have also shut down businesses like dog tracks through statewide votes.

Whatever comes out of this week in Tallahassee, a deal would still need to be approved by the Seminole Tribe itself, and the federal Interior Department would have to sign off as well.

The session is expected to run a week or less.

Image from Pixabay

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