House And Senate Gambling Bills At Odds

Feb 23, 2017

Credit Rainer Hungershausen

The Florida House unveiled its version of a gambling overhaul bill Thursday. What’s inside came as a surprise to lawmakers like Sarasota Republican Rep. Alex Miller (R-Sarasota).

"Decoupling would eventually in my estimation eliminate the cruelest form of entertainment we have here in Florida and as a freshman I was excited to be put on this committee to decouple. And instead I’m put on this committee with the idea that we won’t be able to do anything for 20 years. So it’s personally disappointing for me,” Miller said.

The House legislation would essentially freeze gambling as it is now—meaning a provision that requires pari-mutuels to run a certain number of live events, like dog races, would continue. Meanwhile the Senate’s gambling plan passed its last committee hurdle Thursday. It includes decoupling provisions which would allow pari-mutuels do decide whether to hold live races. It would also allow certain pari-mutuels to operate slot machines so long as the community supports the move in a local referendum.