There is a wonderful scene in Martin Scorsese’s film “Casino,” in which the character played by Sharon Stone flings racks of betting chips into the air. With Little Richard’s “Slippin’ And Slidin'” blasting in the background, dozens of gamblers scramble across the casino floor attempting to scoop up as much money as possible. All the while, Robert DeNiro looks on in amazement.
It really is a helluva piece of filmmaking, but it’s nothing compared to the scene that will take place once State Rep. Dana Young throws her chips into the air and releases her (expected) 100-plus page gambling bill.
Young does not want to see the work she and her staff put into this bill mitigated by knee-jerk reactions to some of the details, i.e., “The Legislature is expanding gambling in Florida!” or “The Seminole Tribe is screwed!”
Young has gone at this bill with a very interesting perspective. She’s not thinking how do we fix this aspect of the industry or limit that gaming activity. Instead, she’s drafted her legislation with the idea, “If the state of Florida had to start from scratch with gambling, what would that look like?”
Dana Young is no Sharon Stone, so she’s keeping her cards close to her chest. However, according to lobbyists on both (or multiple?) sides of this issue, here’s what is in Young’s bill.
— Two destination casinos, one in Broward, one in Miami-Dade. There will be some sort of local referendum language put in place.
— Expanded slots in Lee and Palm Beach counties, if passed by referendum (nice work there, Brian Ballard).
— Reduced tax rates for most of the pari-mutuels (so as to appease state Sen. Jack Latvala and other members of that chamber.)
Each of those details sound like gambling would be expanding in Florida, so what does the Disney/No Casinos contingent get?
— An all-powerful gambling commission given the ability to crack down on the barrel racers and Internet cafe grifters of the world.
— Possibly some sort of constitutional amendment saying any future expansion would have to be passed by, wait for it, constitutional amendment. This idea — call it the Babington Plan — has actually been on the table for a while, but was shelved last year after lawmakers could not come to any terms on how to address the myriad of issues facing the gambling industry.
As for the Seminole Tribe, I agree with Politico’s Marc Caputo that Young’s bill will be silent on what to do with the Tribe. The Tribe has made few new friends this last year, so it’s unclear who will carry the water for it in the Legislature.
All right, the chips are about to be thrown into the air … have fun scrambling.