Casino News

Florida Lawmakers Make Another Push for Long-Coveted Gambling Expansion

The legality of gambling in America is a subject to a complex cluster of laws. The multi-faceted nature of the industry makes it hard to give a definitive answer when it comes to gambling. Every state is governed by different rules as the courts decided that each state could determine whether they would allow intrastate gambling.

Florida lawmakers are once again pushing for gambling expansion in the state. Sen. Travis Hutson presented a bill titled SB 840 that includes modest reforms regarding fantasy contests, greyhound and horse racing decoupling, slot machine taxes, and designated player games at pari-mutuel card rooms.

This is not the first time, in which Florida eyes a gambling expansion. Earlier this year, Senator Bill Galvano (R-Bradenton) also proposed a bill that focused on the expansion of slot machines into counties, where the voters thumb up the proposal. The proposed bill also aimed at allowing pari-mutuel venues to run blackjack games. However, Galvano’s bill was way too ambitious and it failed to pass.

As it can be recalled, Disney Worldwide Services opposed to the gambling expansion in the state, sparing no efforts and funds to prevent it. But Florida lawmakers seems to be poised to revolutionize their gambling laws. The latest attempt to make law reforms came from Sen. Travis Hutson. He focused on 4 main aspects, which are described in the lines below.

What Does Hutson’s Bill Say about Gambling

Sen. Travis Hutson, who is also the chairman of the Senate’s Regulated Industries Committee, presented to the Florida Senate a bill, that proposes gambling expansion. Believing that gambling expansion should happen step by step, his bill is less-ambitious.

The first aspect is daily fantasy sports (DFS). According to the bill, the result of daily fantasy sports contests is highly dependent on the player performance, but not on the team performance. The bill goes on to say that daily fantasy sports commissioners are not subjects to regulation, supposing that they are responsible for no more than 10 leagues.

As aforementioned, the bill seeks to introduce reforms in greyhound and horse racing sector. The new legislative piece aims at decoupling greyhound and horse racing. Furthermore, the recently-proposed bill allows racetrack operators to reduce or totally eliminate their racing schedules, but hold licenses to offer other gambling options.

The other aspect is a slot machine tax redemption. Sen. Hutson proposed a decrease in slot machine taxes to 25%. At present, revenue of slot machines is a subject to a 35% tax.

Last, but not least, Hutson’s bill also allows the so-called “designated player games”, which means that one player at a card table serves as the bank, while the other players are playing against this single player. This type of gambling has become a moot point in Florida due to the settlement, which the state reached with the Seminole Tribe in July this year. Under the settlement, non-Seminole gaming venues are not allowed to offer house-banked games.

The tribe has the exclusive right to offer blackjack at its casinos and the authorization of the “designated player games” violates the tribe’s settlement with the state. It is yet to become clear if Florida is to enjoy new reforms in its gambling legal framework.