What’s an “expansion of gambling”?
It all depends on how you read a proposed constitutional amendment (PCB 14-01) now being considered by the Florida House of Representatives.
The Select committee on Gaming chewed it over on Thursday, starting with a back-and-forth between Reps. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar, and Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek.
The amendment would require statewide voter approval for new gambling to be offered in the state.
“Your definition seems to not really be as encompassing as maybe you want it to be,” Waldman said.
The text of the amendment says expansion “means the introduction of gambling other than” at places where it’s currently allowed.
It also “includes the introduction of additional types or categories of gambling at any facility or location.”
“That means, if you’re authorized to have 50 slot machines and you currently have 49 slot machines, adding the 50th would not be an expansion of gambling,” Gaetz said.
But what if a casino, say, adds another 50 slot machines to the 50 it has now, doubling the number of machines, asked Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach. Isn’t that an expansion?
Not according to the amendment, Gaetz answered.
A facility couldn’t add new kinds of games, he said: “If you have slots today, you couldn’t have craps tomorrow without going to the people of Florida and getting their approval.”
But simply adding more of what you already have isn’t a “new type or category” of gambling as contemplated under the amendment, Gaetz added.
The committee will revisit the proposed amendment and a related gambling overhaul bill (HB 1383) next week.