Florida House Committee Approves Slot Machines and ATM Rule in Casinos
On March 22, 2007, about 4 months after the slot machines in Broward County started their operations, a legislative committee voted to change state regulations, which allow casinos to stay open for business longer and feature more slot machines, new casino table games and put ATM machines in the gaming area so that players can easily withdraw money if they want to continue to play slots or other games.
The House Committee for Business Regulation in Florida has passed the bill, which was authored by Rep. Jack Seiler, a Democrat from Wilton Manors, to increase the slot machines from 1,500 slots up to 2,000 slot machines, the number of machines which are permitted under the 4 pari-mutuels by the county.
The Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino in Hallandale Beach opened last November and the casino now has 1,200 slot machines. The Mardi Gras Racetrack and Gaming Center opened in January with 1,200 more slot machines. The Pompano Park Harness Track Casino is set to debut next month with about 1,500 slot machines. The Dania Jai-Alai Casino, which is set to open next week, has not mentioned how many slot machines they will be offering to their customers yet.
House Bill 1047, which is supported by the gaming market and leading legislators, also aims to extend the casinos operating hours. The ATM’s will be permitted at the pari-mutuels, but they will not be placed in rooms where gambling actually takes place.
It is not permitted to have ATM’s or other cash machines on the actual site, so customers have to leave the pari-mutuels and ride the bus, set aside by the casinos that are available, to get some money.
Rep. Seiler said that his proposed legislation will produce more money for the economy. The only thing that the pari-mutuels will not receive as benefits from the bill is a cut on the taxes that they pay to the state. The measure in the Senate is the same as the House Bill, but the bill offers tax cuts to the pari-mutuels if they will make some modifications and re-modeling on their establishments.
The House Bill is sponsored by Sen. Steve Geller; a Democrat from Cooper City, the bill will not bring down the state tax on the slot machines from 50%. But Geller said that even if the taxes that are paid out to the state are cut down, putting more slot machines will mean a lot of cash for the state. Most of the money will be used for educational purposes.
Allan Solomon, the Executive Vice President and the General Counsel of the Isle of Capri, which is the parent company by the Pompano Park, commented that the pari-mutuel officials are happy with the proposal although they are leaning towards the Senate Bill.
Solomon said that some immediate changes need to be implemented to boost the pari-mutuels ability to compete at the same level as the Seminole Indians, whose own casinos do not have the same restriction that are imposed on the other casinos in the state. Seiler said that his bill will be sort of a compromise between the concerns of the various parties, like the Florida House members who are generally against the gambling bill.
He commented that even with the small budget of the state this year, the proposal for the tax rates and the tax credits for the pari-mutuels must still be reviewed. The change in these laws on the pari-mutuels slots offering are now being reviewed by the state legislature.
State officials are also considering allowing the Seminole Tribe to upgrade their current electronic gaming machines to the Las Vegas slot machines. A lawyer for the Seminole Tribe, Barry Richard said that the Seminole Tribe is willing to pay the state for the right to operate about 1,500 slot machines and pari-mutuels are allowed, as well as other casino table games.