Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran refused to provide his own predictions on whether his home state would succeed in passing a sweeping gambling reform during this year’s legislative session, which convened on January 9 and ends on March 9, local news outlet Florida Politics reported.
Last year, two separate gambling-focused bills were presented in each of Florida Legislature’s chambers. The Senate legislative piece proposed massive gambling expansion within the state’s borders, while the House piece was more moderate in its stance toward the addition of new gambling options to the existing ones. The Florida House has traditionally taken a conservative approach when it has come to any form of gambling expansion.
Asked about the likelihood of successful gambling legislation during this year’s session, Mr. Corcoran told media that it stood at “somewhere between 1% and 99%”. The legislator said that over his seven year’s in the House, lawmakers have failed to come on the same page when gambling expansion has been discussed. While it does not seem likely that they will agree on gambling expansion terms this year, they still may appear on the same page “all of a sudden”.
Back in 2017, Florida lawmakers came as far as to discuss an omnibus gambling bill that would have authorized massive gambling expansion across the state. However, talks fell apart as members of the two chambers proposed different approaches to the state’s gambling regulations. One of the main reasons why a gambling deal failed last year stemmed from the Senate’s proposal for the addition of slot machines at pari-mutuel venues in counties where the move had already been approved in referendums.
Gambling Bills in 2018
The State Senate introduced a sweeping gambling reform bill last week. As in previous years, the legislative piece includes provisions that would, among other things, allow local race tracks to “decouple”, or stop hosting racing events and operate card games only. That proposal has, too, been quite a sticking point in gambling expansion debates in recent years.
Among other things, it was heavily opposed by Florida’s Seminole Tribe, as it breached the tribe’s monopoly over the operation of card games in the state.
The House is also working on its own piece of legislation, and it is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks, according to reports from local media.
It became clear earlier this month that enough signatures were gathered for a ballot question on the future of the state’s gambling industry. Florida voters will be able to vote in November on a proposed Constitutional amendment that would make it impossible for any casino-style gambling reform to take effect before it is approved at a statewide referendum.
The signature gathering initiative was launched last year and was largely funded by Disney and the Seminole Tribe.
Terry Davis holds a degree in Psychology, but it was after his graduation that he found his real passion – writing. Previously, he worked for a local news magazine.