Florida casino bill hits opposition; Rules chair calls it ‘major expansion’ of gambling

“Make no mistakeThis is an expansion, a major expansion, of gambling in the state of Florida,” said Thrasher, chairman of the powerful Rules Committee and a former House Speaker. “In fact, while it’s referenced as limited gaming, it really is not. It’s every type of casino game authorized in the bill, 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

Florida casino bill hits opposition; Rules chair calls it ‘major expansion’ of gambling

By Dara Kam | Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

TALLAHASSEE — The allure of the money and jobs that three casinos might bring to Florida is fading even before the plan receives its first committee vote.

State Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff’s “destination resorts” proposal faced fierce opposition Wednesday morning from at least one GOP leader after three hours of testimony during the Regulated Industries Committee second workshop on the measure (SB 710).

Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, blasted the plan, saying it would dramatically damage the Sunshine State’s reputation and rejecting Bogdanoff’s contention that her bill would limit gambling.

“Make no mistakeThis is an expansion, a major expansion, of gambling in the state of Florida,” said Thrasher, chairman of the powerful Rules Committee and a former House Speaker. “In fact, while it’s referenced as limited gaming, it really is not. It’s every type of casino game authorized in the bill, 24 hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”

Thrasher’s committee must sign off on Bogdanoff’s measure before it can reach the Senate floor for a vote.

Bogdanoff’s bill would create a statewide gambling commission and allow up to three casinos in the state. Casino operators, picked by the appointed commission, would have to spend at least $2 billion to build and develop the resorts.

They could be built in any county whose voters have approved slots at their pari-mutuels. That currently is only Broward and Miami-Dade counties, but several other counties — including Palm Beach — are moving forward with local referenda to allow slots at existing race tracks.

Bogdanoff agreed that her bill “is a major change in the direction of gaming” but for different reasons.

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