A “proposed committee substitute” to be considered today by Florida‘s House Finance and Tax Committee would keep most of the proposed Seminole compact intact and expand gambling in more areas of the state. It would also allow race tracks to “decouple,” meaning they would no longer be required to offer live racing in order to offer more profitable gambling like slot machines and card rooms. The measure proposes changes to HB 7109.
Several counties in Florida have passed voter referendums authorizing slot machines. Five of those counties would be allowed to offer gaming machines in exchange for a guarantee of $120 million in revenues to the state. Only one new parimutuel permit would be issued under the proposed changes, and that would go to Miami-Dade County. “Designated player games” like those in play in California where a card deck is passed from player/dealer to the next would also be authorized at parimutuels. This allows casinos to offer what are normally house-banked card games without actually dealing the cards and will likely prove to be a point of contention in the bill, not only from opponents of expanded gambling but from the Seminoles themselves.
$25 per hand limit house-banked blackjack would be allowed in Miami-Dade and Broward counties under the proposed changes.
The Seminoles would continue to be allowed to offer expanded gambling of craps and roulette in Broward, Glades, Hendry, Collier, and Hillsborough Counties.
Also included is an option to declare that daily fantasy sports is not, “gambling, gaming, or games of chance” expressly legalizing the contentious pastime. Fantasy sports contests involving horse racing would be specifically excluded.
In other related news the Florida Revenue Estimating Impact Conference met on Friday and determined that “Decoupling” would not adversely effect state tax revenues from parimutuels.
The Senate Regulated Industries Committee forwarded legislation decoupling Quarter Horse, Standardbred, and greyhound racing, along with jai alai.