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Fight Over Casinos Grows As House Holds Gaming Workshop

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(Source: CBS4)

(Source: CBS4)

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Lisa Cilli joined the CBS4 News team in June 1995 as producer of the...
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Destination Resorts Bill
Legislative Session Coverage

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – The battle over whether to allow three mega-casinos to operate in South Florida takes center stage in Tallahassee Wednesday.

The House Business & Consumer Affairs Subcommittee has scheduled a workshop on gaming issues, including currents laws and proposed changes.

Initially, the House and Senate had identical bills to allow up to three “destination” resort casinos in the state. But the Senate Regulated Industries Committee made substantial changes in the Senate version (SB 710).

A Senate committee approved a bill Monday that would allow resort casinos in Florida. The bill approved on Monday also gives dog tracks and horse tracks located in the same counties with the large casinos, or destination resorts, a chance to offer the same games such as blackjack without having to make the same $2 billion investment. These tracks would also pay the same lower tax rate as the casinos.

The legislation also would allow dog tracks and horse tracks in other parts of the state to offer slot machines. It also makes it clear that the large casinos would no longer be limited to just South Florida but would be allowed anywhere in the state.

In response to Monday’s vote, three major business groups Tuesday announced a new coalition aimed at blocking proposals that would allow resort casinos in the state.

The coalition includes the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and Florida Retail Federation, all of which previously expressed opposition to the proposals.

It held a news conference Tuesday that also included state Cabinet members, some lawmakers and prominent Miami businessman Norman Braman, who called the casino proposals an “assault on the quality of life of our community.”

Other business groups, including Associated Industries of Florida and Associated Builders & Contractors, support the proposals and argue that new mega-casinos would create jobs.

“The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.”

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