Virginia, Florida Propose Bills to Expand Gambling in Their States

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Feb/12/2018

Legislators in two states are looking to expand gambling.

Virginia lawmakers’ long-standing aversion to gambling appears to be softening as the General Assembly advances a bill to use slots-like betting machines to rejuvenate the shuttered Colonial Downs horse-racing track in New Kent County, 30 miles east of Richmond.

A proposal to legalize historical horse race wagering — which lets players gamble faster by betting on races that have already happened — passed the House of Delegates Appropriations Committee on Friday afternoon on a 21-1 vote with no discussion.

Meanwhile in Florida, a Senate committee on Monday is scheduled to consider yet another proposal related to the legalization of gambling in the Sunshine State.

The initial bill filed by Sen. Travis Hutson, R-Palm Coast, was a stripped down proposal that allowed dog and horse tracks to keep open their poker rooms even if they stopped conducting live races. The bill (SB 840) would also make it clear that Floridians who bet on fantasy football and fantasy baseball aren’t breaking the law.

Hutson, however, on Friday added major changes to his bill, including proposing a new agreement with the Seminole Tribe that would allow them to offer craps and roulette at their casinos across the state.

The House has its own gambling proposal, but it has major differences with the Senate so it’s not clear if a deal can be worked out between now and the end of the session in early March.

- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com (The Associated Press and The Richmond Times-Dispatch were also used to file this report)

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