Sen. Bogdonoff reworks gambling bill

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When the Senate Regulated Industries Committee wades back into the controversial “destination” resort casinos bill next week, it will deal with a wide range of gambling issues, reports the News Service of Florida. Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, has circulated proposed changes to the bill that could have major effects on pari-mutuel facilities and Internet cafes. The bill would still allow up to three resort casinos in the state but would require them to be approved in county referendums. Also, it would set an 18 percent tax rate on casino revenues, up from an earlier 10 percent proposal. The proposed changes also would allow pari-mutuel facilities to offer the same games as resort casinos, if the pari-mutuels make $100 million in improvements and win approval in local referendums. As another option, pari-mutuels would be able to offer slot machines if they get county voter approval. Meanwhile, the proposed changes call for a ban on barrel racing at pari-mutuels, though it would allow a recently opened Gadsden County facility to continue running barrel races if approved in a county referendum. Also, the proposal would shut down Internet cafes that critics allege skirt the state’s gambling laws. The Regulated Industries Committee is scheduled to take up the bill (SB 710) on Monday. Bogdanoff can make further changes before formally filing an amendment later this week. The proposed changes do not appear to include moving the Florida Lottery under a new state gaming commission, an idea that Bogdanoff floated in November.

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