Florida gambling reform was no dice this session

florida 2Naples News – Like Lucy does with Charlie Brown, the Legislature keeps promising Floridians an overhaul of gambling in the state — then pulls the ball away.

This year was no different, with a grand run-up starting months before the legislative session.

Lawmakers spent nearly $400,000 on a 700-page study. The takeaway? Expanding gambling would offer “at least a mildly positive impact on the state.”

Then a group of senators led by Naples Republican Garrett Richter took to the road, holding a series of public workshops around the state.

One telling, early sign: The Orlando-based No Casinos in Florida group called out the Las Vegas Sands Corp., which has long wanted to build a destination resort-casino in the state. The organization revealed that one of the Sands’ Florida lobbyists organized a busload of Tampa seniors to speak in favor of gambling at a workshop in Lakeland.

During session, House lawmakers let their Senate counterparts do the heavy lifting. The Senate’s gaming committee led by Richter eventually produced a more-than-450 page rewrite of gambling-related statutes.


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