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Got Something to Say About Gaming in Florida? You've Been Invited

October 10, 2013 - 6:00pm

Floridians with something to say on the economic and social impacts of gaming in Florida will get to record their comments and register to speak at an upcoming meeting by logging on to a new website -- a "microsite" established by the Senate Committee on Gaming.

Senate President Pro Tempore Garrett Richter, R-Naples, chairman of the committee, announced the new website Thursday. Recent rapid changes have transformed gaming industries, but laws and tax policies have not kept pace, and layers of exceptions and patches are not working well to promote the state's overall economic and social welfare, he said.

The situation demands a comprehensive critical assessment and it is the Gaming Committees responsibility to review gambling statutes, to address the ambiguities, inconsistencies, and exceptions in current law, and to craft an action plan.

Florida has an expansive gaming picture to consider.

Gaming is a well-established business sector in Florida, with roots stretching back to the 1890s. In the past 25 years, gaming industries have been transformed, not just in Florida but all around the country.

Pari-mutuel wagering has declined. The state Lottery, as well as cruises, card rooms, casinos, and Internet cafes have emerged. During the 2014 legislative session, the Senate aims to replace the current makeshift structure with a comprehensive statewide approach to gaming policy.

In preparation for this important work, the Senate Gaming Committee has said it will conduct public meetings across the state to listen to the views of as many citizens as possible.

In particular, the committee wants public reactions to the two-part Florida Gambling Impact Study, commissioned by the Florida Legislature earlier this year. The study provides an independent and unbiased factual assessment of the social and economic impacts of gaming.

Understanding local perspectives and personal impacts is an instrumental component of public policy decisions that could impact the future of gaming in our state for generations, said Richter. Community leaders and interested citizens are encouraged to add their testimony to the committee record by submitting comments in writing or speaking at a public workshop.

From the Senates Gaming webpage, Floridians can:

  • Download a copy of the Florida Gambling Impact Study.
  • Submit comments in writing.
  • Access maps and directions for attending a public workshop.
  • Register to speak at a public workshop (deadline for online requests is three days prior to workshop; those who miss the deadline and wish to speak may attend the workshop and fill out appearance cards onsite).

Four workshops are scheduled at locations across the state:

Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013, 4-7 p.m. (Eastern)
Broward College, North Campus, OMNI Auditorium
1000 Coconut Creek Blvd, Coconut Creek, FL 33066
To be listed on the agenda, make request to speak on or before Oct. 16, 2013.

Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013, 3-6 p.m. (Eastern)
George Jenkins High School, Auditorium
6000 Lakeland Highlands Road, Lakeland, FL 33813
To be listed on the agenda, make request to speak on or before Oct. 23, 2013.

Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 1:30-4:30 p.m. (Central)
WSRE-TV Jean & Paul Amos Performance Studio
1000 College Blvd., Pensacola, FL 32504
To be listed on the agenda, make request to speak on or before Nov. 7, 2013.

Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, 2-5 p.m. (Eastern)
Florida State College at Jacksonville Downtown Campus, Advanced Technology Center
401 W. State St., Jacksonville, FL 32202
To be listed on the agenda, make request to speak on or before Nov. 8, 2013.

The Senate Gaming Committee also will meet in Tallahassee Nov. 4 and Dec. 9 to hear more public and industry reactions to the Florida Gambling Impact Study.

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