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Florida Gambling Expansion Bill Faces Long Odds

Legislation Had Four-Hour Long Hearing This Week

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Legislation that would make sweeping changes to Florida’s existing gambling industry had a four-hour long hearing on Thursday in Tallahassee. It was apparent from the hearing that the bill doesn’t stand much of a chance this year, according to tallahassee.com.

The hearing was held by the House Regulatory Affairs Committee and no vote occurred.

The massive 316-page bill was introduced earlier this month and gained attention for its length.

Rep. Dana Young, a Republican from Tampa, is pushing the “Gaming Control Act of 2015.” The bill calls for two “destination resort” casinos in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, something that has been considered in previous legislative sessions in the Sunshine State.

Each casino would need to have an investment of at least $2 billion.

Bringing new mega-casinos to the state has been fiercely contested in the past by current stakeholders in Florida gaming and tourism, especially Disney and the Seminoles.

Seven Seminole tribe casinos operating under a compact with Florida are set to expire in July if not re-negotiated, leading some to say that the state should consider new billion-dollar commercial casinos. Estimates on tax revenues from the mega-casinos reportedly are more than what the state currently makes from the existing tribal-run casinos.

In February, the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, which has land in Florida but no casinos, said that it wants to get into the gambling business in the Sunshine State as well. It reportedly threatened to grow marijuana on its Florida land if it doesn’t get a state gambling compact like the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes. However, it doesn’t have the OK from the feds yet.

“It is premature for Florida to engage in any compact negotiations until PBCI (Poarch Band of Creek Indians) obtains an Indian lands determination from United States Department of the Interior,” the office of Florida’s governor said.