Florida, Illinois Latest Gambling Initiatives Face Tough Hurdles

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Mar/06/2017

The Florida legislature will soon take up the issue of gambling restrictions in the state.  Scroll Down For More

The state has often struggled with the idea of gambling expansion having an adverse effect on Florida’s family-friendly brand.

Activist groups have also stood in the way.

From NBC 6 South Florida:

Any attempt to change the state's byzantine gambling laws will face a gauntlet of competing interests. They range from animal rights activists who want dog tracks to drop greyhound racing to the owners of existing tracks fearful that the Seminole Tribe and out-of-state corporations will squeeze them out of business unless they are granted concessions similar to those given the tribe.

“Inaction is not a choice,'' Bradenton Republican Sen. Bill Galvano said of the status quo.  He is sponsoring a major gambling bill this year that would expand gambling beyond locations where it currently exists, in areas such as South Florida and Tampa.

Currently, only South Florida horse racing and dog tracks are permitted to install slot machines while only the Seminole Tribe-run casinos can offer blackjack.

“There are long-term gaming operators in this state in the need of a fair modern business model in order to compete and grow,'' said Dan Adkins, vice president of Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach.

The Senate bill would allow slot machines at tracks in additional counties beyond South Florida.  The measure would also permit the Seminole Tribe to add craps and roulette at its casinos.

The House proposal would block any additional gambling and instead just let the Seminoles keep blackjack and slot machines at its casinos for 20 years.  The Senate bill would be a “non starter” should it come to the House, according to the House bill sponsor.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, a proposal to expand casino gambling in that state would put new casinos in six locations.  That plan has received the endorsement of the Senate.

Despite Senate approval, the gambling legislation can't move forward unless accompanied by the dozen or so other bills in the grand bargain. The overall spending deal is on hold after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner voiced opposition to remaining parts of the plan, according to the St. Louis Dispatch.

Licenses would be authorized for Chicago; undetermined locations in Lake County, north of the city, and in its south suburbs; Rockford; Danville in east-central Illinois; and Williamson County in southern Illinois.

- Aaron Goldstein, Gambling911.com

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