House Republican Leader Dana Young has introduced a massive, 316-page bill that could change the face of gaming and casinos throughout Florida, particularly in Broward and Palm Beach counties.
Young, a Republican from Tampa, was charged with taking on the state's gambling issues by Speaker Steve Crisafulli last month. And now she's introduced a bill that could essentially have two massive casinos running in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, while slot machines would expand and casinos would be permitted to end live greyhound racing.
If approved, the bill, titled "The Gaming Control Act of 2015," would bring resort-style casinos into Broward County by requiring the destination casino owners to buy out gaming permits from the northern part of the state to run their giant casinos down here. According to the bill, the destination casino owners would also have to invest around $2 billion in property and pay, at minimum, $175 million in gaming taxes each year.
The bill also looks to allow slot machines to be added to Palm Beach while allowing casino owners there to end live greyhound racing. As it stands, casino owners across the state are forced to have greyhound racing at their gaming facilities so they can be permitted to offer other betting games and poker rooms at their casinos.
Moreover, the measure would create a tax-based incentive program for dog racetrack owners in the northern part of the state that would allow them to expand business operations in South Florida if they close their facilities in North Florida. There would also be greyhound injury reporting required from racetrack operators.
Additionally, racing machines would be established at places that offer greyhound racing, allowing gamblers to bet on live races that happen outside of the state via video monitors.
The measure also looks to establish a statewide gaming control commission and features language that would make it OK for family-friendly places like Dave & Busters and Chuck E. Cheese's to allow games.
Of course, gaming and destination casinos have historically met with staunch opposition over the years. Corporations like Disney and dog track owners have been anti-megacasinos. And the house has traditionally been hard on any gaming measures that's gone through it.
The one thing the bill doesn't directly address is the current compact that lets the Seminole Tribe of Florida offer blackjack and other games at its respective casinos like the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. Indirectly, the bill would look to offset any money the state might lose in revenue sharing it gets from the Seminoles by adding more slots and more gaming at these proposed megacasinos.
Ultimately, however, voters would decide whether these casinos are built in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.