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Florida house panel passes scaled-back gambling bill

6 April 2009

TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- As reported by the Miami Herald: " Amid warnings that expanding gambling is not a good bet for the state this year, a House committee passed a scaled-back Indian gaming bill Friday.

"The House select committee on tribal gaming voted 17-1 Friday to give the Seminole Tribe the exclusive right to operate Class III slot machines at its seven casinos in Florida in return for $100 million a year.

"The proposal authorizes Gov. Charlie Crist to renegotiate the gambling compact that has been invalidated by the Florida Supreme Court, but it also requires him to order the tribe to forfeit the blackjack and house-banked card games it won under his original plan. The court ruling found the games to be illegal in Florida since there is no specific legislation allowing them.

"...The proposal would dedicate most of state's share of money from Seminole gambling to education, but divert 5 percent to local governments and to programs that address the social consequences of gambling.

"The House's gambling plan is a stark contrast to a Senate plan which passed out of its first committee last week. The Senate has proposed giving the tribe full casinos, including craps and roulette, lowering the tax rate on slots at horse and dog tracks and jai alai frontons, and giving 'racinos' -- race tracks that have slot machines -- card games such as blackjack. The agreement also would give parimutuels outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties bingo-style, Class II slot machines..."

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