Destination casino bill is dead, sponsor says

The bill – which would have allowed up to three $2-billion casino resorts in South Florida – was killed by an unlikely coalition of opponents: Central Florida tourism interests led by Walt Disney World and the Florida Chamber of Commerce; social conservatives opposed to more gambling; and the state’s pari-mutuel industry and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, whose gambling interests would have faced new competition.

Destination casino bill is dead, sponsor says

Kathleen Haughney
Orlando Sentinel

TALLAHASSEE – Attempts to bring destination casino resorts to Florida are dead – at least for now.

A proposal to bring three high-end casino resorts to Florida had its first debate in a House committee Friday morning. But after 90 minutes of debate, it was abundantly clear that the measure didn’t have the votes on the 15-member panel to win.

So Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, asked to postpone a vote, so that lawmakers could “continue the conversation” about the future of gambling in the state. But that move effectively killed the proposal.

House Rules Chairman Gary Aubuchon, who sets the House’s calendar, immediately issued a statement saying the postponement meant the bill was dead. The House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee does not meet again, and Aubuchon said he would not allow the bill to be sent to a friendlier committee or simply to the entire House.

“Today’s action on the casino gambling bill is a resounding victory for those of us who have opposed this assault on Florida’s family friendly economy,” the Cape Coral Republican said. “As long as I am the chairman of the House Rules Committee, this bill will not be withdrawn from any committees and is dead for this year.”

The bill – which would have allowed up to three $2-billion casino resorts in South Florida – was killed by an unlikely coalition of opponents: Central Florida tourism interests led by Walt Disney World and the Florida Chamber of Commerce; social conservatives opposed to more gambling; and the state’s pari-mutuel industry and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, whose gambling interests would have faced new competition.

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