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Senate to set marathon 4-hour hearing on gambling bill

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

The Senate’s gambling legislation for 2017 will be filed Thursday, according to state Sen. Bill Galvano.

Bet on a lot of talk about it: The Regulated Industries Committee has set aside four hours to discuss it at its next meeting.

A tentative schedule posted Wednesday on the Senate’s website shows its Jan. 25 meeting beginning at 2 p.m. and ending at 6 p.m. The committee oversees gambling policy.

Committee chair Travis Hutson, said his members will begin going over the bill being handled by Galvano, one of the lawmakers who helped draft the 2010 Seminole Compact,

The Miami Herald reported late Monday that lawmakers were close to a deal to get approval of a new agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida granting them continued exclusivity to offer blackjack and “banked card games.”

Part of that deal involved “allow(ing) owners of declining pari-mutuels to sell their permits to others who want to install slot machines at newer facilities outside of South Florida,” the paper reported.

Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, has been working on legislation with state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, a Miami-Dade Republican and the House’s point man on gambling.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran has said “we’re a very conservative chamber, and if something is going to pass … it’s going to have to be a reduction in gambling.”

The deal satisfies that condition, the Herald reported, because it “lead(s) to a net reduction of live, active (dog and horse track) permits throughout the state.”

But gambling opponents are skeptical, saying any new slots outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties would be unconstitutional.

Voters statewide approved an 2004 amendment to the state constitution legalizing slots at existing jai-alai frontons and horse and dog racetracks, but only in South Florida.

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 [email protected]

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