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Gambling deal off the table in final days

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With just days left in the annual legislative session, House Speaker Jose Oliva on Monday put to rest the possibility of passing a gambling deal.

Oliva, R-Miami Lakes, also said he would prefer not to hold a special legislative session to try to pass a gambling bill, likely pushing the issue back to next year.

“I think we simply ran out of time this year,” Oliva said.

The 2019 session is scheduled to end Friday.

Powerful Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, and representatives of the Seminole Tribe of Florida have negotiated for weeks on a deal that included the possibility of sports betting at the Seminoles’ casinos as well as at Florida racetracks and jai alai frontons, with the tribe acting as a “hub.”

Allowing in-play sports betting, known as “proposition” or “prop” bets, at professional sports arenas also was part of the talks.

Gov. Ron DeSantis received an outline of a deal and met with numerous gambling-industry officials Friday. But revamping gambling laws is highly complicated as it involves numerous interests, including the Seminole Tribe and pari-mutuel operators. As an example, pari-mutuel operators have looked to protect highly lucrative “designated player card games.” But the tribe contends that the games violate an earlier gambling deal, known as a compact, in which the Seminoles received exclusive rights to “banked” card games, such as blackjack.