Senate seeks to clarify law on barrel racing gambling

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With Florida’s gambling industry in flux, an influential senator this week filed a bill that would block barrel racing at pari-mutuel facilities and repeal a law allowing some new jai-alai operations, reports Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida.

Regulated Industries Chairman Dennis Jones, a Seminole Republican who has long been a key lawmaker on gambling issues, offered the proposal (SB 1376) amid wide-ranging questions about whether loopholes in state laws are leading to expanded gambling.

Gov. Rick Scott said last week that lawmakers need to make clear whether the state allows such things as betting on rodeo-style barrel racing. A new pari-mutuel facility in the Gadsden County community of Gretna recently began offering barrel racing, a move that also allows the facility to operate a card room.

“I think the Legislature ought to make sure it is absolutely clear whether we want barrel racing … or not,” Scott said during an interview.

Jones’ bill offers a detailed definition of horse racing, specifying in part that it must be on a track that “does not require a horse to change its course in response to any obstacles on the racing surface.” The definition goes on to say that horse racing does not include “steeplechases, hurdle races, barrel racing

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.