The Florida House and Senate now have only a few hours left to complete the negotiations over a new piece of legislation that would secure the state’s long-term agreement with the local Seminole Tribe. In addition, if given the green light, the proposed bill would open the door for slot machines in some of the state’s counties.
Earlier this week, the Florida Senate proposed a state-wide gambling measure that would officially permit slot machines gambling in eight counties in case that their voters have given their approval to pari-mutuel providers to offer such form of gambling. The counties that would have the right to add slot machine gambling to their offering are Duval, Palm Beach, Brevard, Washington, Gadsden, St. Lucie, Lee and Hamilton.
The Senate earlier called for the House to agree with its proposal, or if it refused to do that, the Senate also requested a special conference committee to be established in order for the legislators to negotiate on the issue.
With very little time left until the end of the current annual legislative session, which is set to close later today, Florida legislators are also pressed by the possible constitutional amendment on the November ballot. In addition, if they fail to agree on the proposed piece of legislation, the state of Florida could lose an amount of up to $250 million on an annual basis that would otherwise be contributed to the state budget.
Legislators Need to Seal an Agreement Quickly
Until Thursday evening, the House had refused to agree on the expansion of slot machines outside the counties of Miami-Dade and Broward, where they are currently legal. At a meeting of the conference committee, the House finally agreed to permit three more counties to offer slot machine gambling in case the local pari-mutuel operators meet certain conditions.
As mentioned above, pari-mutuels would only be granted with slot machines operating licenses under certain conditions. In addition, the new licenses would not be allowed to be situated within 100 miles of the Tampa Casino that is owned and run by the local Seminole Tribe. Slots machines would also be banned within 25 miles of any of the other gambling facilities operated by the tribe.
New slot machines licenses would allow up to 500 slot machines. For the time being, there are 2,000 machines that are allowed in South Florida for the time being. The proposed piece of legislation of the House seeks to reduce the maximum number of slots machines currently allowed at the eight pari-mutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties from 2,000 to 1,500.
Now, the local legislators would have to put their efforts into sealing an agreement on the proposed piece of legislation, despite their differences in case they want to keep the annual amount contributed as taxes by the local Seminole Tribe. The original legislative session is set to end on Friday night, but the legislative leaders have extended it until Sunday as far as negotiations on the state budget are concerned.