lorida Senate President Wilton Simpson on Wednesday unveiled plans to move forward with a trio of scaled-down gambling bills that do not include sports betting but would create a state gaming commission and lift a long-debated requirement on pari-mutuel facilities. The move comes amid ongoing talks with the Seminole Tribe about a gambling deal.
Simpson announced Wednesday that the Senate Regulated Industries Committee will meet Monday to consider a proposal (SB 7076) that would create a five-member “Gaming Control Commission” to oversee gambling operations in the state. The Senate committee also is expected to consider a measure (SB 7080) that would do away with a requirement that many pari-mutuel facilities conduct live horse racing or jai alai games to offer more-lucrative card rooms.
That "decoupling" change could be useful for Isle Casino Racing Pompano Park, where a major redevelopment is planned, as reported by South Florida Sun Sentinel. The plan calls for transforming the property into an upscale retail, dining, office and entertainment hub. The 233-acre property has been home to a harness racetrack since 1964.
The bills omit gambling license “portability” that could allow betting at former President Donald Trump’s golf club in Doral and the Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach, according to a memo to senators from Simpson.
In the memo, Simpson said the proposed gaming commission would be appointed by the governor and would have the authority to police the state’s gambling laws, which now are largely overseen by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and local law enforcement officials. “Responsible regulation is central to gaming, and I believe, as with other industries, such regulation should be reviewed and updated regularly,” Simpson said in the memo. “Appropriate regulatory controls build public confidence and lead to a stronger gaming industry that can spur economic growth that benefits the businesses and our state.”
Negotiations continue with Florida’s 60-day legislative session set to end on April 30.