Florida Lawmakers Consider Public Opinion Before Gambling Bills

Florida Lawmakers to Hear Public Views before Considering Gambling Bills in 2014

Florida lawmakers will hold public hearings as a means to gather unrestricted opinions about gambling and of related laws or policy changes that could affect communities in the Sunshine State. Four hearings in all will be held, two of which will take place in Fort Lauderdale and Lakeland in October, and another two in Pensacola and Jacksonville in November.

In April 2013, the Florida House of Representatives and the Senate jointly commissioned Spectrum Gaming Group (SGG) to conduct a two-part study of gaming in Florida. The comprehensive study is a preparatory step in addressing and examining issues related to gambling, which lawmakers plan to take up in the coming 2014 legislative sessions.

The results of SGG’s practical study and analysis will be made available to Florida residents prior to the holding of the scheduled hearings. That way, the public will have time to review SGG’s report before bringing forward their concerns and reactions at the public meetings.

The head of Senate Gaming Committee, Senator Garrett Richter (R-Naples) will spearhead the meetings where he intends to hear varying views coming from those who support or oppose the expansion of gambling in Florida. Senator Richter prefers to maintain a neutral stance regarding the issues, as he intends to arrive at a sound decision based on a “foundation of information”.

Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) plans to attend the hearing scheduled at Pensacola, and hopes to hear the views of community officials, law enforces, religious leaders and proponents of economic development.

Republican Representative Jimmy Patronis of Panama City said that he is not inclined to vote in favor of bills that propose to expand gambling in Florida, but he intends to keep an open mind in considering expansions laws that will take effect only in selected areas.