Latest News
FLORIDA
10/30/11 TO 11/5/11


Casino Opposition

FL - "How many high paying jobs come with a casino anyway and who pays when those losers sink in to deep trouble? The answer is we all do," said Bunkley. The coalition says 90 cents of every dollar the state gains from gaming is spent on criminal justice, addiction programs and welfare for broken families. The state legislature is exploring the option as a way to get a better handle on gaming and fill a two billion dollar budget whole. ...

www.flanews.com / November 1st, 2011

Casino Watch: "Seminole Compact is Toast"

FL - The tribe has agreed to pay the state a billion dollars through 2015 for exclusive rights to games in its seven casinos. Fresen (casino bill sponsor) says the deal isn't fair and the state can balance its budget without the Seminole money.

www.flanews.com / November 4th, 2011

Dean Cannon is an anti-casino wild card

FL - With nothing to run for in 2012, Cannon will be acutely aware of protecting his legacy during his last session as speaker. He has never been a supporter of expanding gaming. Will he want to risk being remembered as the speaker who allowed Vegas-style casinos into Florida? Cannon's reaction so far has been diplomatic, though he did tell reporters this week, "I am philosophically opposed to the expansion of gambling in our state" and said he is "skeptical" the bill will pass.

articles.orlandosentinel.com / November 04, 2011

Dem leader Saunders wants Dem input on gaming bill

FL - House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders told a group of reporters Wednesday that House Democrats want input in the gaming bill and if sponsors want the legislation to pass,

blogs.orlandosentinel.com / November, 2 2011

From: Casino Watch <photofixr@casinowatch.org> -

Fla. lawmakers may avoid major issues in 2012

FL - State leaders will also have to grapple with a budget shortfall that may be as much as $2 billion. Haridopolos did repeat Wednesday his desire for the Senate to vote on creating three casinos in South Florida. But Cannon said he was philosophically opposed to the expansion of gambling and that he was skeptical if the legislation could muster enough votes to pass. House Democratic Leader Ron Saunders said the divide among Republicans over gambling legislation could give members of his party some leverage on the issue.

www.miamiherald.com / 11.02.11

Flawed gambling bill requires reshuffling

FL - Legislative analysts also believe the bill would allow a Panhandle county like Gadsden to someday host a megacasino without holding a referendum. That's control? Meanwhile the legislators would have the state spend more than $5 million on Florida's expanded gambling bureaucracy, but only $250,000 on the compulsive gambling... Their bill would spawn.

www.orlandosentinel.com / November 5, 2011

Florida Casino Bill Could Face Long Odds

FL - Fresen and Bogdanoff are confident that rising revenues from mega-resorts in South Florida would more than offset any gaming losses elsewhere. But skeptics aren't so sure, and they question the equity of the legislation. As for the tribal casinos, John Sowinski, head of the anti-gaming group "No Casinos," said the Seminole compact "was sold to the Legislature and the voters as a firewall against high-stakes casino gambling in Florida. That was part of the consensus-building process." Sowinski decried "the quick willingness to cast [the compact] aside," and critics of the Fresen-Bogdanoff bill say such shuffling of the deck is an early indicator of how big casino interests will manipulate the political process going forward.

www.sunshinestatenews.com / November 5, 2011

Florida Morning: Haridopolos backs Mack

FL - CASINO SKEPTISISM: Florida's current and incoming House leaders are no big fans of gambling and, while they are not willing to voice clear opposition to it (in the midst of a steady stream of campaign cash from the gambling industry going to GOP political campaigns), their voices against it are getting louder.

jacksonville.com

Florida Retailers Oppose Casino Bill

FL - "Florida has a healthy and vibrant retail economy that is driven by residents and visitors alike," There's a lot of evidence that suggests the destination resorts that are being proposed will hurt the businesses already here."

www.sunshinestatenews.com

Florida casino strategy needs to make dollars - and sense

FL - The casino resort bill, which has industry giants like Genting, Sands and Wynn exploring sites in South Florida, doesn't have the best terms for the state. Not with a low 10 percent tax rate (the parimutuels pay 35 percent) and no upfront bidding for lucrative casino licenses. Full casino resorts are far from a sure thing, as an array of opponents - social conservatives, central Florida tourist attractions, South Florida parimutuels - are organizing. And if casinos are approved anywhere else in Florida, or if Miami's Magic City racino is allowed to expand to a second location, the entire 2010 revenue-sharing compact would be voided, according to its terms. And federal law might let the Seminoles keep all forms of gambling allowed in the state without paying a cent.

www.sun-sentinel.com / November 2, 2011

Florida's tourist attractions group opposes resort casino bill

FL - The board of the association of tourist attractions and parks today announced it will oppose the "destination resorts" casino bill... Promises of economic boom and employment gains are not sustained, and casino gambling has become passe with their proliferation and the passage of time."

miamiherald.typepad.com / November 2, 2011

Fresen: Seminole compact is 'toast'

FL - State Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, said the compact that the state signed with the Seminole tribe just a little more than a year ago is "probably toast" thanks to recent gaming developments. "I never felt that the compact was worth the paper it was printed on," said Fresen, who is championing the destination casino legislation. Last week, the Division of Parimutuel Wagering granted West Flagler Associates a permit to operate summer jai alai, and with that, potentially slot machines.

weblogs.sun-sentinel.com / November 3, 2011

Gadsden County Puts Slot Machines on Primary Ballot

FL - If approved, the slot machines would be installed at the Creek Entertainment Gretna Racing center that is to open in a few weeks about 25 miles west of Tallahassee. A provision in state law allows referendums to be held on slot machines for pari-mutuel facilities...

www.sunshinestatenews.com / November 1, 2011

Gambling Addiction in Florida Is On the Rise as Genting Eyes Giant Downtown Miami Casino

FL - Interestingly, a whopping 42 percent of all callers to the line reside in South Florida. That's the same area where Republicans in the state legislature are considering authorizing mega-casinos. Crime- 35% reported they resorted to committing illegal acts to finance their gambling representing a 3% increase over the previous year... 25% reported they were unemployed and/or collecting state assistance, a 4% increase over the previous year,

blogs.miaminewtimes.com / Nov. 1 2011

Gambling a hot topic all over Florida

FL - In a recent citizen survey that I conducted earlier this year, the results were split. About 46% of local residents said they supported the expansion of gambling in Florida, 39% were opposed, and 15% were undecided. Clearly, public opinion is still unsettled on this issue. In our survey, we received a wide range of opinions and viewpoints on the gambling issue.

nsbnews.net / By Dorothy L. Hukill / 2011-11-06

Gambling in Miami: Genting is All In

FL - The Seminole Tribe of Florida (who currently has the largest gaming presence in Florida) will have nothing of the sort. The tribe has begun to lobby Tallahassee in an effort to prevent the bill from passing, and in turn, protecting their gambling "monopoly" in Florida.

www.hauteliving.com / November 3rd, 2011

Gambling on the Future

FL - I think the old cowboy's insights certainly correlate to the elements that come with casinos -- gambling, prostitution, alcohol, and drugs, along with money to enable even more corruption and influence-peddling among our local politicians. But prostitution is a victimless crime, right? I mean, who does it hurt, other than local businesses whose customers are driven away and children who are forced to walk a gauntlet of whores as they make their way to and from school? Anyone in this community who thinks corruption and influence-peddling will get any worse with the addition of casinos has a screw loose. Almost every day one politician or another is being called out for everything from conflict of interest to outright accepting of bribes in exchange for votes. Casinos just introduce another venue to be exploited.

www.biscaynetimes.com / November 2011

Gambling problems increase as Floridians have more wagering options

FL - The 5,848 callers who sought help from the... Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling in the fiscal year that ended June 30 represented an increase of more than 18 percent over last year -- and a 57 percent over the past five years. Although the council is busier than ever, the state has eliminated its funding, jeopardizing the operation of its statewide helpline, Fowler said that studies show more than half a million Floridians have serious to severe gambling problems and that each problem or pathological gambler costs taxpayers thousands of dollars from the cost of arrest and prosecution for the crimes they commit to the cost of social services for the gamblers and their families. Two-thirds said they committed fraud, such as forgery or writing bad checks, and a quarter said they stole. One in 10 said they embezzled money from their employer.

www.orlandosentinel.com / November 2, 2011

Gambling, prayer and the 'celebrate plate'

FL - We start with Florida's troubling take on gambling -- proposing to expand it right after cutting funding to deal with gambling-related problems. That's a bad combination. Gov. Rick Scott... Vetoed the state's $500,000 contribution to the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, even as calls for help are on the rise.

www.orlandosentinel.com / November 3, 2011

Gaming Vote Coming Soon

FL - Today Senate President Mike Haridopolos told reporters he expected the regulated industries committee to vote on the gaming bill by the end of the month.

www.flanews.com / November 2nd, 2011

Gaming in Gadsden? It's now officially a possibility

FL - Voters in Gadsden County, just west of the capital, will vote on whether to allow slot machines at a new facility in the town of Gretna, If voters approve the slots, company officials say they'd develop a gaming resort, with a restaurant, quarter horse racing, hotels and other amenities...

blogs.orlandosentinel.com / November, 2 2011

Go slowly on casinos

FL - Before the Legislature calls it quits next March, the bill -- notice that the word "casino" is nowhere to be seen ---will be chewed up and shredded more than the dog toys we give our pug, Tallulah. But the bill, as drafted, has some serious deficiencies. Rather than three mega casinos, it would allow any county that approved a referendum on slots -- as Miami-Dade and Broward did -- to be eligible for a destination casino. Fresen and Bogdanoff say they're ready to hear suggestions to improve the bill. Genting and the other prospective bidders like it pretty much the way it is. Which is another way of saying that their legion of lobbyists have already had more influence than they should.

www.miamiherald.com / 11.01.11

Group challenges Gretna gambling

FL - The Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association has challenged the licenses granted by the state for pari-mutuel barrel racing and poker set to begin next month in Gretna. The 14-page petition filed Nov. 3 against the state's Deparment of Business... And Professional Regulation's Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering as well as Gretna Racing contends that barrel racing -- horses and riders running against each other and the clock in a clover-leaf pattern around obstacles -- is not allowed by law.

www.tallahassee.com / Nov. 5, 2011

Groups launch anti-gambling lobbying campaign

FL - Groups such as the Florida Baptist Convention, the Florida Catholic Conference, Florida Casino Watch and Florida Family Action say they oppose any measure to expand gambling because it victimizes poor people, tempts compulsive gamblers, sullies the state's family-friend image and could harm businesses that rely on tourists. "We are working to make our message very clear to legislators that it is unconscionable to vote for a change that will negatively affect thousands of families in our state," said Mark Andrews, chairman of Florida Casino Watch. The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling... Reports that Florida is home to 500,000 people who have "serious to severe" gambling problems. Casino operators such as Genting and Las Vegas Sands have hired a team of lobbyists and public relations professionals and are expected to spend heavily on political election campaigns.

staugustine.com / November 2, 2011

Hallandale Beach mechanic who stole $100,000 sentenced to 30 months in prison

FL - The victims were customers at J & E Auto Electric in Hallandale Beach, where Elalouf was a mechanic with a gambling problem and a need for cash, Other times he simply promised to help them buy a car, took their payment, and stopped returning their calls. Other victims included a college student, a retired veteran, a pediatrician and a working mother recovering from colon cancer. Elalouf... Got a divorce and developed a gambling problem all within a short period leading up to the crimes.

www.sun-sentinel.com / November 3, 2011

House Dem leaders say Casino sponsors won't get their vote unless Dems get input

FL - Saunders (D)said the bill, as written today, would not get his vote because he is concerned about the impact on existing parimutuels, which have said they fear this bill will put them out of business. He also said he thinks the gaming commission gives too much power to the governor.

weblogs.sun-sentinel.com / November 2, 2011

House Speaker, Democrat Leader See Session Fights over Redistricting, Gambling

FL - The upcoming Florida legislative session is likely to be so dominated by looming fights over expanding casino gambling and redrawing the state's congressional and legislative districts that there might not be time for extensive work in other areas, House Speaker Dean Cannon said Wednesday. The casino gambling proposals, Cannon said, could face a tough fight unless their supporters can back up claims that the expanded gambling would actually rein in gaming in the state.

www.sunshinestatenews.com / November 2, 2011

House leadership expresses skepticism about promises over casino bills

FL - November 2, 2011... House Speaker Dean Cannon used his strongest language yet Wednesday at a pre-session briefing with reporters, sponsored by the Associated Press. "I am philosophically opposed to the expansion of gaming in our state,'' he said. He said he was "very skeptical" that destination resort casinos will reduce gaming in Florida. "I have yet to see a concrete plan to accomplish it.

miamiherald.typepad.com

Lake Worth to consider casino leases Thursday night

FL - The proposed anchor tenant, Johnny Longboats, plans to lease 10,500 square feet, or 66 percent of the leasable space, to create a two-story restaurant and bar with a central staircase on the north end of the casino.

www.palmbeachpost.com / Nov. 2, 2011

Las Vegas Sands says one Miami resort casino is plenty

FL - In what could shape into a battle of casino giants, Las Vegas Sands Corp. plans to compete with Genting Group and other gaming industry leaders for one of three coveted resort casino licenses that would become available in South Florida under newly proposed legislation. He (Abboud VP Sands) added that some of those options might be outside of South Florida in other counties around the state where voters approve the idea of hosting resort casinos, which would be permitted under Bogdanoff-Fresen legislation. The way Las Vegas Sands sees it, he said, South Florida already has a somewhat saturated gambling market,

www.miamitodaynews.com / Nov 3, 2011

Lawmakers defend casino bill

FL - This high-interest bill has only been on the table for a week, but has already generated a press conference from faith-based groups opposed to it, a television advertising campaign criticizing it by an Orlando-based group called No Casinos, and the opposition of the powerful Florida Chamber of Commerce and Walt Disney Co. Two casino operators, Genting Malaysia and Las Vegas Sands, are lobbying heavily for the bill, But opponents to the bill say they dislike any proposal that would result in more money being spent on gambling, and say they don't believe claims that the bill would shut down existing gambling facilities.

www.news-press.com / Nov. 3, 2011

Lawmakers: Legislation Adding Resort Casinos Would Reduce Overall Gambling in Florida

FL - The state lawmakers behind legislation that would allow the construction of multi-billion dollar resort casinos in South Florida insist they are actually pushing the bill to reduce gambling in Florida. It may sound like double-talk, that you could build some of the largest resort casinos in the world and reduce overall gambling in Florida, but that's the argument from Rep. Erik Fresen and Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff. This week the Florida Catholic Conference, Florida Baptist Convention, Florida Family Policy Council and Florida Casino Watch announced an effort to mobilize churches across Florida against the legislation.

www.firstcoastnews.com / Nov 3, 2011

Legislators Say Casino Bill Will Control Gaming Without Altering Florida's Image

FL - In Miami-Dade County, an application has been filed by the owners of Flagler Dog Track and Magic City Casino to break ground for a gaming resort that will feature jai alai events that also could include slots. In both cases, loopholes to the state's 30-year-old pari-mutuel law are being used that allow referendums on slot machines as long as the pari-mutuel permit-holders conduct a minimum number of events, such as jai alai or barrel racing, in a two-year period. So, because we have chosen to ignore it for a number of years, we have become the fourth largest gaming state in the nation." New Jersey casinos are taxed at about 20 percent, while Nevada is around 6 percent. "In creating the large type or potentially large type of destination resorts, we're doing two things: One, we're creating a direct competition to that monopoly that exists right now," Fresen said. "Two, I, as a legislator from South Florida, I'm dealing with the reality that my community is begging me, 'can we do something to inject some capital into the economy?' And I have $6 billion knocking on my door in Miami-Dade County."

www.sunshinestatenews.com / November 4, 2011

Legislators: Recent exploitation of gambling loopholes provide 'script' for reform

FL - The Gretna referendum, to be held during the Jan. 31 presidential preference primary, will ask voters to authorize the Las Vegas style games and, with that, allow the track's owners to apply for a slots permit. The Gretna Casino is primarily owned by the Alabama-based Poarch Band of Creek Indians along with two Tallahassee gambling lawyers and lobbyists. If voters approve the referendum, the owners could run barrel races for two consecutive days over New Year's Eve and New Year's Day and the company could apply for a slots license.

miamiherald.typepad.com / November 3, 2011

Leon County Issues Simulated Gambling Facility Permits

FL - Prior to the adoption of the ordinance, Leon County identified 33 locations operating simulated gambling devices. In order to comply with the ordinance, all currently operating simulated gambling facilities were required to submit an application...

www.wctv.tv / Nov 3, 2011

Local officials cast wary eye on latest casino push

FL - Robert Carroll, executive board chairman of the Panama City Beach Chamber of Commerce, said Friday he had mixed emotions about the issue personally, but he thought it was something the chamber could discuss in the future. He noted the moral issues that often swirl around gambling, saying he had small children, and he also wondered if the high number of housing foreclosures in Las Vegas could be attributed to the gambling culture.

www.newsherald.com / November 05, 2011

Long-anticipated 'destination' casinos bill filed

FL - Florida Baptist Legislative Consultant Bill Bunkley is urging Christians and others concerned about expanded gambling to become engaged in the debate to oppose the "big, bold and arrogant" casinos bill. "It will be the people of Florida, not just people of faith, that will let their voices be heard--and I suggest that the Legislature take heed of their call," Bunkley told Florida Baptist Witness. Orlando-based public relations consultant John Sowinski, who is re-launching a "No Casinos" campaign he used to fight efforts to expand gambling in 1994 and 2004 through constitutional amendments, said he disagrees with any effort to expand gambling because of the cost to society in increased gambling addictions. "We think this is a dramatic over-reach," Sowinski said. He said the tighter regulations are needed, but disagreed with tying it to the approval of large Las Vegas-style casinos. "While we agree with getting rid of Internet cafes, you don't have to be the biggest casino in the world to do that." The bill is an attempt to "sell Florida to the highest bidder," Bunkley added. The destination resort casino can operate and serve alcohol 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

www.gofbw.com / Nov 2, 2011

Palm Beach County lawmakers clarify casino proposals

FL - Thursday Senator Bogdanoff and her counterpart on the casino issue in the House, Erik Fresen, tell reporters gambling is expanding in the state all the time. The legislation is a way to bring more structure and planning to the industry and provide more competition. The "destination" casinos would hopefully boost state coffers.

www.cbs12.com / November 03, 2011

Port Canaveral considers casino prospects

FL - Meanwhile, the authority plans to decide in December whether or not it would want land-based casinos at Port Canaveral and, if so, ...

www.bizjournals.com / November 4, 2011

Proposal could bring casino gambling, including slot machines, to Palm Beach County

FL - Bogdanoff's bill (SB 710) would allow the commission to grant a casino license in counties where voters have approved slot machines or other "limited gaming" such as baccarat, blackjack, craps or roulette, and the only two counties in the state where that's been done are Broward and Miami-Dade. In a case involving the Hialeah Park racetrack, the 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee ruled that when the legislature authorized a deal with the Seminole Tribe last year, it also gave permission to counties such as Palm Beach that have racetracks or jai-alai frontons to hold referendums to allow slots without further action by state lawmakers. Would casino gambling be good for Palm Beach County? YES 77.40% NO 22.60%

www.palmbeachpost.com / Nov.1, 2011

Q&A: Erik Fresen and Ellyn Bogdanoff Discuss Their Casino Bill

FL - Q. How did you vote on the Seminole gaming compact? A. We voted yes for one reason: Q. If the passage of your legislation enables the tribe to break the compact, what is your best estimate on the loss of funds to the state? A. This is not about revenue. Q. What is the rationale for setting a $250,000-per-venue figure for addicted-gambling programs -- the same figure that applies to much smaller dog tracks and pari-mutuels (and the same amount currently paid by the Seminoles at each of their properties)? A. We are not a big fan of forcing them to pay for the programs.

www.sunshinestatenews.com / November 5, 2011

* * * Religious groups launch anti-gambling lobbying campaign

FL - Groups such as the Florida Baptist Convention, the Florida Catholic Conference, Florida Casino Watch and Florida Family Action say they oppose any measure to expand gambling because it victimizes poor people, tempts compulsive gamblers, sullies the state's family-friend image and could harm businesses that rely on tourists. "We are working to make our message very clear to legislators that it is unconscionable to vote for a change that will negatively affect thousands of families in our state," said Mark Andrews, chairman of Florida Casino Watch. The council (on Compulsive Gambling) reports that Florida is home to 500,000 people who have "serious to severe" gambling problems. "Anybody that believes this is going to scale back gambling, that is a huge disingenuous argument," said Bill Bunkley, a lobbyist for the Florida Baptist Convention. "How many times have the people in Florida been told 'Let's do this next deal and it will take care of all our problems?" Genting and Las Vegas Sands... Are expected to spend heavily on political election campaigns.

www.news-press.com / Nov. 1, 2011

Religious, social conservatives unite to oppose gambling expansion in Florida

FL - "We believe that the casino bills are amazingly short-sighted," said John Stemberger, who heads the Florida Family Policy Council. "We do not solve short-term economic pressures by creating permanent institutions that are regressive, counterproductive and not in the best interest of the common good."

www.sun-sentinel.com / November 2, 2011

Sands says gaming developments in Miami, Gretna could help casino lobby

FL - The compact with the tribe guaranteed the Seminoles rights to banked card games such as blackjack and bacarrat at five of their seven facilities and unlimited rights to slots outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The compact was signed for 20 years, but at the five year point, the state and tribe could renegotiate the terms. If it is breached before the five year point, the tribe could simply walk away and not give the state any money.

blogs.orlandosentinel.com / November, 2 2011

School employee pleads guilty to theft of $600,000

FL - A bookkeeper who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Hillsborough County technical center pleaded guilty today to grand theft and official misconduct... Parker also has to pay $300,000 in restitution and attend gambling counseling,

www2.tbo.com / November 02, 2011

Seminole Coconut Creek Casino Cuts Into Unemployment Rate

FL - The Seminoles have had plans to expand the Coconut Creek casino for years, but they have been waiting to make sure that they would be allowed to offer expanded gambling at the facility. Now, the expansion, which will be concluded at the beginning of next year, will include more gaming floor space and a parking garage. The Seminoles are adding over 100,000 square foot of gaming floor space during the expansion.

www.casinogamblingweb.com / November 3, 2011

Seminole Tribe Vows to Fight Destination Casino Bill at Legislature

FL - "We will vigorously fight against any attack on our [gaming] compact with the state," said Seminole Tribal Chairman James Billie. "We urge Florida legislators to step forward in support of our compact and refuse to pass any legislation that violates contractual agreements with the Seminole Tribe."

/ November 6, 2011

Should Palm Beach County get a piece of the casino pie?

FL - Is a casino what Palm Beach County needs to boost tourism and help our struggling economy? Some say now is the time and they want to put the issue before voters. Marcus says she has no problem letting voters decide the fate of casinos. But she questions pushing for casinos given recent efforts to attract high-paying high-tech jobs.

www.cbs12.com / November 02, 2011

South Florida destination casinos: How much revenue would they generate?

FL - The state currently takes in about $388 million a year from slot machines, poker and the seven casinos run by the Seminoles, according to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Of that, $125 million came from the five pari-mutuel facilities that operate slot-machine racinos in Miami <http://www.sun-sentinel.com/topic/us/florida/miami-dade-county/miami-%28miami-dade-florida%29-PLGEO100100408120000.topic> -Dade and Broward counties and $12.5 million from the poker tables operated by horse tracks, dog tracks and jai-alai frontons across the state. Another $250 million comes from the Seminoles, under a five-year agreement signed with the state that gives them exclusive rights to blackjack and other table games at five of their seven casinos. "Without tax rate and product parity, they could put three or four of us out of business," said Scott Savin, chief operating officer of Magic City Casino in Miami. And their proposed solution - a 10-percent tax rate that matches the casinos - would see their current $125 million payments drop to $35.7 million a year.

www.sun-sentinel.com / November 3, 2011

Update: Gadsden commission unanimously approves referendum on slot machines

FL - Gadsden County Commissioners, before an overflow crowd, unanimously approved tonight a January vote to allow slot machines in the impoverished county. No opponents spoke against the referendum, or the slot-machine plan, before the commission voted after an hour and 10 minutes of public and commission discussion. Creek Entertainment Gretna is building a poker room and pari-mutuel barrel racing arena there where activities will begin in December. State regulators approved licenses for pari-mutuel wagering and poker in October. Now Gadsden voters will get to decide Jan. 31 if they want add up to 2,000 slot machines to those operations. That's a concern shared by the Florida Quarter Horse Racing Association. President Steve Fisch has opposed the Gretna Racing pari-mutuel license granted by the state in October, saying barrel racing does not meet definitions in state law and is merely a cheap way for developers to get a card-room license and open the door for slots.

www.tallahassee.com / Nov. 1, 2011

* * * Voting districts, budget priorities in 2012 session

FL - Neither Haridopolos nor Cannon signaled how they would go on casino gambling. But Haridopolos said he is committed to a vote of the full 40-seat Senate and the speaker said he won't stifle the big bill in committee. Gambling interests are lobbying hard for three massive resort casinos in Southeast Florida, while existing tourism companies like Disney and religious organizations are lining up to combat casinos. "I am philosophically opposed to the expansion of gaming in our state," said Cannon. He said he has heard arguments of a revenue bonanza and better control of gambling, but "I remain very skeptical." Saunders said the big casino fight will be one of the rare instances of his 39-vote Democratic bloc having real clout. He estimated that the 81 House Republicans are almost evenly split on casinos, so either side will need about half of the Democrats to pass or defeat a bill. "Our position is, we are uncommitted as a caucus," said Saunders. If votes were cast now, he said, casino gambling would not pass.

www.tallahassee.com / Nov. 2, 2011