No Resort Casinos Coming to Florida as Bid to do so Ends

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Associated Press
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No Resort Casinos Coming to Florida as Bid to do so Ends

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — (Associated Press) - A push to bring Las Vegas-styled resort casinos to South Florida is once again being rejected by the state Legislature.

The idea was a long shot from the start, but a top House Republican on Tuesday filed a revamped gambling proposal that drops any mention of casinos.

House Majority Leader Dana Young kicked off the 60 day session with a proposal to upend the state's entire gambling industry. It called for two massive casinos in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, while allowing slot machines at racetracks in Palm Beach and Lee counties. The bill also made other changes, including letting greyhound tracks keep poker rooms even if they ended live racing.

But the proposal, which also called for setting up a new commission to regulate gambling, failed to gain any traction among either Republican or Democratic legislators.

Young said her initial 300-plus page bill was a "work in progress," but now she viewed her latest proposal (HB 1233) as the "final consensus product" reached after discussing gambling issues with other legislators. The nearly 60 page bill is scheduled to be taken up by a House panel Thursday.

The revamped legislation doesn't allow casinos, but it still allows greyhound tracks to offer other types of gambling even if they discontinue live races.

The Senate has not considered any major gambling bills this year but it might consider extending an agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida by one year to buy more time for negotiations.

Without an extension, the tribe will have to shut down blackjack and other card games later this year under an agreement signed in 2010. Other parts of the compact, including the right to operate slot machines, will continue. The tribe has paid the state more than $1 billion under the agreement

Young said she did not address the compact with the tribe since there is still no agreement between the state and the Seminoles.

The Seminoles have been airing television ads and engaged in a major public relations effort to persuade legislators to keep the current deal intact. The tribe's properties include the highly profitable Hard Rock casinos in Hollywood and Tampa.

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