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Jose Felix Diaz files more changes to Seminole Compact

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The House’s lead negotiator on the Seminole Compact has filed another strike-all onto the troubled gambling legislation.

State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, the Miami Republican who chairs the House Regulatory Affairs Committee, filed his amendment Thursday, the day before the House is scheduled to begin its consideration of gambling legislation for 2016.

Diaz was in the House’s Thursday floor session and couldn’t be reached.

According to a bill comparison by LobbyTools, the biggest change is the deletion of language on advance deposit wagering, or “multi-jurisdictional simulcasting and wagering,” which is a form of betting on horse races and other events over the Internet.

Diaz, among others, helped broker a new agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida for the tribe to keep offering blackjack at its casinos in return for $3 billion over seven years. The deal was finalized in December by Gov. Rick Scott.

The legislation tanked earlier this week, after lawmakers piled on multiple concessions of additional gambling opportunities for the state’s struggling horse and dog tracks, or pari-mutuels.

Because they expanded gambling, there weren’t enough votes in any of the Legislature’s factions to approve the revised measure.

The Seminole Compact and a proposed constitutional amendment on voter control of gambling is on the agenda for Friday’s House floor session.

Gary Bitner, spokesman for Seminole Tribe of Florida, has declined to comment on developments on the Compact this week. The legislative session is scheduled to conclude next Friday.

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Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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