As budget looms, Haridopolos says Senate not paying much attention to gambling issues, like what to do with Internet cafes

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The Senate is highly focused on putting finishing touches on a spending plan that can be voted on in the full Budget Committee and then on the floor next week and simply isn’t paying much attention to other issues at the moment, Senate President Mike Haridopolos said via the News Service of Florida. That includes a major gambling issue that remains alive in the Legislature despite the demise of the proposal to allow casino resorts. Some lawmakers still want to do something about “Internet cafés,” essentially online gaming parlors. It appeared there was broad consensus for tackling the issue with the main question being whether to try to outlaw them, or simply to regulate them. But on Thursday, Haridopolos said the issue has receded into the background for the moment, anyway. “The Internet cafés are not a major pressing issue in our world, we’re focused on the budget,” he said. He did allow the one of the leading senators on gaming issues, Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Treasure Island, believes that the Internet cafes don’t need to be banned to comply with the Seminole Indian gaming compact, which is supposed to provide exclusivity on certain games to the tribe. That’s because the cafes predate the compact, he said. If the House passes a bill, “we’ll take a look at it,” he said.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.