THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, February 29, 2016……Calling it a "love note" to the Senate, a key House committee Monday signed off on a sweeping gambling bill that would ratify a $3 billion agreement with the Seminole Tribe and allow pari-mutuels in at least five counties to add slot machines.
House and Senate leaders will roll out gambling bills Friday that would allow the Seminole Tribe to add craps and roulette at its casinos, potentially do away with dog racing and most horse racing and open the door for slot machines in Palm Beach County
Late Thursday, Senate Regulated Industries Chairman Rob Bradley and his House counterpart, Regulatory Affairs Chairman Jose Felix Diaz, were working on details in the two proposals, slated for votes next week in both committees.
Gov. Rick Scott used a joint press conference Monday with the Seminole Tribe to pitch the economic impact of a proposed $3 billion gambling agreement now in the hands of the Legislature
For Scott, the deal is all about jobs.
During an hour-long presentation by the Seminoles about expansion plans, the tribe's representatives said that more than 3,600 workers would lose their jobs if lawmakers don't sign off on the proposed gambling deal, known as a "compact."
Florida gambling regulators filed complaints this week against seven pari-mutuels over a lucrative type of card games, accusing the facilities of illegally operating the games more than three years after state officials first approved them.
Florida health officials are holding to a deadline next month for the state's first medical marijuana businesses to seek permission to begin growing non-euphoric cannabis, even with hearings in license challenges stacked up through mid-summer.
It's a sure bet that lawmakers won't sign off on a $3 billion agreement with the Seminole Tribe that Gov. Rick Scott handed over last month.
Nurseries have filed more than a dozen challenges to the medical-marijuana licenses granted by Florida health officials, with some asking that the licensing process be put on hold until their petitions are heard in court.
As of Monday's 5 p.m. deadline to challenge the licenses, the Department of Health had received 13 petitions, according to agency spokeswoman Mara Gambineri.
In what sounds like a line out of a Jimmy Buffett song, one of the state's soon-to-be medical marijuana purveyors used a helicopter and a landing at a golf course to squeak in minutes before a 5 p.m. deadline Wednesday to prove he had nailed down a requisite $5 million bond.
Bruce Knox, an owner of Lake Mary-based Knox Nursery, was the last of the five cannabis dispensing organizations --- picked by a Department of Health panel late last month --- to post a surety bond required by state law for licenses to go into effect.
Far from a sure bet, Gov. Rick Scott's $3.1 billion gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida is getting a tepid response from some legislative leaders, virtually guaranteeing that the proposal could require major changes to win enough support for passage.
The agreement, signed by Scott and tribal Chairman James Billie on Monday, equates to a major expansion of gambling in Florida, bringing to the state craps and roulette for Seminole casinos and opening the door for slots and blackjack in areas where a previous agreement prohibited the games.
The Florida Supreme Court will decide whether a Gadsden County racetrack should be allowed to have slot machines without the express permission of the Legislature, in a case with widespread implications for gambling throughout the state.
The court on Tuesday accepted jurisdiction in the Gretna Racing case after a split appellate court reversed itself on the issue in October.