Proposed changes in Florida gambling laws leave some insiders scratching their heads

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The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering offered a number of new gaming rules last week, leaving  more than a few gambling operators scratching their heads. reports the proposed rules for state-authorized gambling include laws that racetracks must be oval; horseraces cannot be less than six furlongs in length; regulations on jockeys’ clothing and size; and a requirement that there must be at least six horses in every race.

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation — which the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering is a part — will hold workshops starting Oct. 16 on the proposed gambling rules. They say the proposals address laws that are “unclear” and lacking “many standards necessary to ensure the continued integrity of pari-mutuel wagering.”

On first glance, the rules seem directed at attempts at barrel racing and other non-traditional horse races, which include barring “the racing animal to change course in response to any obstacles on the racing surface.”

Jockeys also have additional restrictions, such as they weigh less than 130 pounds, and they “wear racing silks consisting of white pants and racing colors registered with the racing secretary.”

However, many of the draft rules will impose restrictions on current horse races, and have a devastating effect on the industry if left unchanged.

According to, few in the industry see these new rules finalized in the 2014 legislative session, from March through May. Others call it a welcome opportunity to improve Florida gambling rules, making them more in line with customary industry practices.


Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.