“Haphazard”laws have resulted in unintended gambling expansion in Florida

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Gov. Rick Scott’s gambling footprint in Florida is expanding, says a report in the Tampa Bay Times.

State regulators crafted a new license, allowing “flag-drop” races, only days after a judge ruled against barrel races in a North Florida racino—a combined casino and racetrack.

The same regulators allowed slot machine operators to operate electronic games in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, use an unused jai alai permit to expand the number of slot machines at Magic City Casino, and to conduct a one-time race in June at Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream racetracks, which then could offer simulcast thoroughbred races year-round.

This week, legislators will see the first part of a gambling analysis from a New Jersey gaming company, designed to help lawmakers determine the best way to approve destination gambling, much like Atlantic City.

Haphazard state regulations, as well as a lack of legislative reform, have allowed gambling to spread in unexpected ways. For example, an effort to expand simulcast betting at Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream could increase competition, but at a substantial cost to the Florida horse industry with more than 6,000 breeders and owners.

“The governor is trying to bring new jobs to Florida, but this is something driving jobs away from Florida,” Kent Stirling, executive director of the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, told the Times/Herald.

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.