The Senate's comprehensive gaming package, Senate Bill 8, today passed the Committee on Appropriations and is ready to go to the Senate floor when the 2017 legislation begins March 7.
The bill would regulate online fantasy sports and allow the state to buy out active gaming permits in exchange for new slots licenses. And it would start the conversation with the Seminole Tribe of Florida for a new compact with the state.
Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, who introduced and ushered SB 8 through its committee stops, released this statement:
“Florida is a diverse state and our constituents have many different opinions, beliefs and convictions regarding gaming. This legislation does not attempt to make value judgments about the private activities of free, taxpaying Floridians. Instead it presents a comprehensive approach to regulating a voter-approved industry that has contributed billions of dollars to our economy for education, health care and infrastructure, while providing hundreds of thousands of jobs to Floridians over the course of nearly 100 years.
“On a statewide basis and locally, voters have told us they support gaming in this state. The people of Florida have even gone so far as to authorize gaming in our state constitution. With that directive in mind, my goal has always been to maximize opportunities for revenue sharing between the state and gaming establishments.
"Specifically, the goal of this legislation is to negotiate a new Compact that continues our relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, remove antiquated provisions of law that impact pari-mutuel facilities, and honor voter referendums that authorize expanded gaming opportunities in certain Florida counties.
“I am confident we can strike the right balance between these competing interests. Implementing a guaranteed payment requirement will ensure we achieve our first priority --revenue sharing between the state and authorized gaming entities -- under each and every scenario.”
Galvano serves as the Senate's key negotiator with the Tribe on the compact, a role he also undertook in 2010 when he was the House's key negotiator on the first compact.
Republican leaders in the House, meanwhile, are taking their gaming bill in a far different direction. Called PCB TGC 17-01, the House bill is essentially "a status-quo proposal" aimed to replace the 20-year Seminole gaming compact. It would ban pari-mutuel operations in Lee County, Brevard County, Gadsden County, Duval County, Hamilton County, Palm Beach County, St Lucie County and Washington County from offering slots -- something Galvano’s bill would allow with voter approval.