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Galvano looks for action on gambling

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Senate President Bill Galvano said Wednesday he wants to take action on sports betting and a new deal with the Seminole Tribe following warnings from Florida’s top legislative economist that the future of state gambling revenue is uncertain.

“We are in a dubious state right now, and I think it is worthy of us to create stability with the Seminole Tribe,” Galvano, R-Bradenton, told reporters at an Associated Press event in Tallahassee.

State officials have negotiated agreements with the Seminole Tribe over the years, and the current deal expires in May.

With no clear path forward on a future deal, it is hard to predict if the state can depend on the estimated $343 million it receives from the tribe every year from casino revenues, according to Amy Baker, coordinator of the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

The ambiguity over gambling revenue also comes after Floridians voted in November to phase out greyhound racing by 2020 and approved a constitutional amendment that gives voters control over casino expansion in the state, a move that limits the Legislature’s power over what it can do with gaming.

“We are operating in a different world post-constitutional amendments, but I think there is an opportunity for sports betting in the state of Florida,” Galvano said. “It’s an activity that is occurring and not regulated, and we are not collecting and sharing revenues from that activity.”

Galvano did not provide specifics on what he would like to see during the legislative session that starts March 5, but he has directed staff members with the Senate Innovation, Industry and Technology Committee, chaired by Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, to review the issue and draft legislation by late February.