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Gambling deal may come down to slots question

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Seeing it as the “lesser of various evils” to pass a gambling bill this year, the House may give in to the Senate’s position to legislatively approve new slot machines in counties that passed referendums allowing them, according to those familiar with the negotiations. As of early Monday, the Conference Committee on Gaming was set to meet later in the day at 1:30 p.m., though an official notice had not yet gone out. The House and Senate are far apart on their respective gambling…

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Supreme Court OKs gambling control, felon voting rights amendments

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The state’s highest court on Thursday gave its approval for proposed state constitutional amendments on voter approval of new gambling and restoring voting rights to ex-cons. But there’s a big ‘if’ before either can be placed on the 2018 statewide ballot—both amendments still need hundreds of thousands of signatures. Moreover, Justices Ricky Polston and R. Fred Lewis dissented on the gambling amendment, saying “the ballot title and summary do not clearly inform the public that the proposed amendment may substantially affect slot…

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With ‘pre-reveal’ games, it’s déjà vu all over again

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Illegal gambling is like cockroaches: You kill one and there are dozens more when it came from. Back in 2013, a multi-state illegal gambling investigation embarrassed the Legislature, resulted in dozens of arrests and eventually took down a lieutenant governor. Jennifer Carroll stepped down because, before her election, she provided public-relations representation to the company being investigated. Yup, she was never charged with a crime and yet just the past association cost her the job. Some weeks later, lawmakers outlawed the strip-mall…

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Black clouds loom over this year’s gambling bills

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Ed. Note: A version of this story ran previously in Saturday’s “Takeaways from Tallahassee” email. It’s long been a Capitol cliché, but there are few pronouncements on a piece of legislation as inauspicious as calling something “a heavy lift.” Saying a bill is “a heavy, heavy lift” sounds even more portending of defeat. Yet that’s how House Speaker Richard Corcoran referred to the omnibus gambling bills now on their way to conference. They include a new agreement for continued exclusive rights…

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Joe Negron will support new Seminole Compact next session

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Answering a $3 billion question, Senate President Joe Negron Tuesday said he backed passage next session of a renewed gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. But Negron also said he was comfortable with related initiatives gambling opponents have said constitute an expansion of gambling in the Sunshine State. For instance, regarding counties that pass local referendums to allow slot machines, the Stuart Republican said he would “personally feel obligated to defer to that.” “We also need to be…

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Slot machine decision could come in time for session

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It’s been nearly five months since the Florida Supreme Court heard arguments over whether to expand slot machines in the state. Though the justices never set a timeline on when to expect a decision, the smart money says: Expect something by early next year. That’s because that’s when the Legislature will start drawing up the state budget, which could use the extra money that gambling bring to state coffers. And lawmakers earlier this year heard that general revenue estimates are heading downward…

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Gambling advocates seek oral argument against amendment

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Opponents of a proposed constitutional amendment on gambling are asking permission from the Florida Supreme Court to argue against it at a future hearing. Marc Dunbar, a lawyer-lobbyist who represents dog and horse tracks, filed a request for oral argument Monday, court dockets show. He filed on behalf of “Floridians for Clarity in Gaming Control.” Dunbar’s brief describes it as “an unincorporated association of individuals and business sharing concerns regarding the proposed constitutional amendment,” ranging from “registered voters in Seminole County,…

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