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Senate ready to wade into gambling issue

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Senate is expected this week to consider a proposal that would make wide-ranging changes in the state's gambling industry, including allowing slot machines at pari-mutuel facilities outside of Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Senators are slated to take up the bill (SB 8), filed by Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, during a floor session Wednesday.

The bill comes as the state seeks to reach a new gambling agreement, known as a compact, with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

The Senate and House are taking different approaches to gambling legislation, with the Senate making changes that would affect the pari-mutuel industry and the House more focused on a deal with the Seminoles.

The Senate proposal, for example, would allow slots in eight counties --- Brevard, Duval, Gadsden, Hamilton, Lee, Palm Beach, St. Lucie and Washington --- where voters have approved them. Also, it would allow pari-mutuel "racinos" in Miami-Dade and Broward, which already have slot machines, to add a limited number of blackjack tables.