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NEWS 4 May 2017

Failure of Florida bill quashes hopes for the legalisation of DFS

By Nicole Abbott
Lawmakers in Florida recently announced that negotiations for a new gambling law in the state are “dead” for this legislative session, which will conclude next Friday.

Efforts to expand the gaming industry with the legalisation of DFS have failed once again as key legislators from both the state House and the Senate confirmed that they were unable to compromise on gambling regulation. Representative Jose Felix Diaz told news sources that the stances of the parties on the subject of gambling regulation were “too far apart”.

The Senate introduced a proposal to authorise slot machines at pari-mutuel racing operators outside South Florida; however, the House wanted to restrict them to Miami-Dade and Broward counties – a demand which has divided lawmakers.

State Senator Bill Galvano has stated that the failed agreement implies that the slots issue will be taken to court. Despite the Florida Supreme Court recent ruling in favour of a constitutional amendment that would give voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorise casino gambling”, another case is still pending which will decide if Broward and Miami-Dade counties will be permitted to monopolise slots facilities.

Furthermore, the Seminole Tribe’s relationship with the state is also somewhat tenuous. The Florida Legislature has shown favour to approving a new gaming agreement with the tribe, guaranteeing the state a $3bn share of the tribe’s gaming revenue from its local casinos.

However, federal courts have supported the tribe’s claim that the state has violated the Seminole’s right to a monopoly over house-banked card games by permitting “designated-player” games. However, the tribe has faithfully continued to pay around $20m to the state every month as a gesture of good will.

However, Attorney Barry Richard, a tribe’s counsellor, has told Florida Politics’ Jim Rosica that the Seminoles would “react accordingly” to the failure of the most recent gambling bill. Richard added that the tribe may stop paying if the state fails to shut those games down.
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