Weak – but mildly helpful- MIami Herald Editorial on Gambling Bill

Slow it down

OUR OPINION: House casino bill beats expansive Senate version

Reconciling Senate and House versions of the casino bill in the Legislature just became harder. Maybe impossible.

The once-matching bills have been amended to ensure the best possible reception in each chamber. Trouble is, the Senate version expands gambling in Florida, while the House bill achieves a better balance. It would scale back existing gaming and seeks to put a lid on future expansion.

In other words, they’re totally different.

Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff’s bill, which survived its first committee vote last week, goes too far. It opens the door to the same full-scale casino games at any pari-mutuel in Miami-Dade and Broward. It also allows them to pay the 10 percent tax rate that would be paid by resort casinos — minus the mandate of a $2 billion investment imposed on new casinos. “I’ve given up saying it’s not an expansion because I’ve lost that battle,” Sen. Bogdanoff conceded.

In the gambling-averse House, though, Rep. Erik Fresen’s version would ban so-called Internet cafes and maquinita parlors that prey on local residents, repeal 17 dormant parimutuel permits and allow a limited number of destination resorts. That at least heads in the right direction. The Legislature needs to study all alternatives, not rush into what’s politically expedient. Gambling needs to be better regulated, not the free-for-all that the Senate bill has become.

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