Florida House of Representatives Majority Leader files major Gambling bill; Article on showdown over Seminole gambling agreement quoting me; McCain calls for re-examination of PASPA; Poarch Creek band of Indians threatens to sell marijuana from their Florida land if not given gambling; Comprehensive gambling deal in Florida described as “Enormous, Gargantuan Lift; Quotes from Orlando Sentinel gambling panel; Geller speaks at NCLGS
• Florida House of Representatives Majority Leader Dana Young filed a major re-write of gambling laws in Florida on March 2. This bill is over 320 pages, and will permit destination resorts, historic racing, and many other types of gambling in Florida. We will print a more complete analysis of this bill after we have time to review it, and see what the official Bill analysis says.
• Nick Sortal, the excellent gaming columnist in the Fort Lauderdale SunSentinel, wrote a column entitled “Showdown looming over Seminole gambling agreement.” One of the experts quoted in that article was … me. Sortal quoted Geller as saying “The one thing I can tell you with pretty good certainty is that anybody that tells you with certainty that they know what’s going to happen is wrong”.
• United States Senator John McCain has said that the U.S. Congress needs to reexamine the Federal ban on sports wagering [PASPA]. According to the Washington Post, McCain said “We need a debate in Congress… We need to have a talk with the American people, and we need to probably have hearings in Congress on this whole issue so we can build consensus.”
• The Poarch Creek Band of Indians (Poarch) is an Alabama-based tribe that owns about one acre of land in near Pensacola, Fl, where it is claiming the right to build a casino. According to the Associated Press, the Poarch currently operate a casino in Atmore Alabama, a few miles away from the Pensacola site. The Poarch are not currently a Federally recognized tribe in Florida, but they contend that they have the right to have casino gambling in Florida, based on the amount of time that the Florida land has been owned by the tribe. The Governor Rick Scott administration disagrees, stating that it is ‘premature” to negotiate with the Poarch until they have the necessary Federal recognition in Florida. The AP states that the Poarch are threatening to take advantage of a December opinion by the U.S. Department of Justice which will permit Tribes to raise and sell marijuana on their tribal property, and are stating that they will consider doing this in Florida if the Poarch do not get “a seat at the table” on Florida gambling issues.
• News Service of Florida has published a lengthy analysis of the difficulty in passing a comprehensive gambling bill under the headline “Gambling Deal ‘Enormous, Gargantuan Lift’ This Session”. That quote was from Rep. Dana Young. The article talks about Senate President Andy Gardiner’s repeated statements that he is fine with the Legislature doing nothing this year, and letting that portion of the Seminole Gaming Compact dealing with banked card games “sunset”, or expire. Gardiner has appointed Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano as the lead on gambling for the Florida Senate. Galvano was the lead for the Florida Legislature five years ago when the Seminole Gaming Compact was originally approved [Although not in the article, it should also be noted that Galvano is currently national Vice-President of the national Council of Legislators from Gaming States (NCLGS), and is expected to become President of that group in 2016]. The article quotes Galvano extensively. The article goes on to say that “any gambling measure runs the risk of being overloaded with wish lists from industry operators, including pari-mutuels in Broward and Miami dade Counties that already have slots but want a lower tax rate and card games to better compete with the nearby Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.”
• Nick Sortal also wrote an interesting piece in the SunSentinel, including interesting quotes from many top players in the gambling debate from a panel discussion hosted at the Orlando Sentinel, the sister paper of the SunSentinel. Among those quoted were Geoff Freeman, President of the American Gaming Association; Mark Wilson, President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce; John Sowinski, President of CasiNos.org; and Izzy Havenick, a member of the family that owns Magic City Casino in Miami, as well as having other Florida Pari-mutuel interests.
• Since I mentioned NCLGS earlier, I want to point out that they had a very successful conference in Las Vegas in January. I spoke on three topics at their committee meetings, which may be a record for any single speaker. I spoke on updates in pari-mutuel technology, pari-mutuel decoupling, and gave an update on Indian gaming state compacts and Tribal recognition. The next NCLGS meeting is in June in Atlantic City.
Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association sued by unhappy member, Ebro Greyhound Track debate on whether greyhound racing should continue, and comparison between expanded gambling and expanded legalization of marijuana.
- According to the Ocala Star-Banner, The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders and Owners Association (FTBOA) has been sued by one of its members, who alleges multiple improprieties on the part of the FTBOA. The lawsuit includes allegations that the FTBOA has become too political, that the officers and directors have been elected improperly, and that the Legislature improperly designated the FTBOA as one of the state recognized horse racing associations in Florida. The Plaintiff formerly owned the land where Oxford Downs is located, and the FTBOA has filed a lawsuit against the current owners of Oxford Downs, as mentioned in a prior entry in this blog. The attorney for the Plaintiff is a partner in the Gretna facility which was granted a license for pari-mutuel barrel racing. The FTBOA also was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Gretna facility.
- An article in the Panama City (FL) News Herald contains a response by the owners of Ebro Greyhound Park to general allegations of animal cruelty in greyhound racing. Rick Hess’ family owns Ebro, and he defends thoroughbred racing, arguing that animal rights groups are trying to end thoroughbred racing in Florida, which would also hurt greyhounds and jobs. Carey Theil, the Executive Director of Grey2K USA Worldwide, a leading group seeking to end greyhound races, agreed with Theil’s statement that they are trying to eliminate greyhound racing, and went on to explain reasons that Theil believes greyhound racing should be eliminated.
- The Daytona Beach News-Journal published a column by Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson in which Gerson compares the growth of gambling to the growth of legal marijuana. Gerson states that both bring in new tax dollars and are supported in the name of personal liberty. Gerson states that “both find common ground in encouraging and exploiting the weaknesses and addictions of citizens.”