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Florida Senate Approves Gaming Bill for Florida Pari-mutuels and Seminole Immokalee Casino

A Senate panel in Florida approved a pair of gaming bill on January 24th, 2010 that could have significant effect in Southwest Florida: The Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Racing Track would get the opportunity to install video slot machines and the Seminole Casino in Immokalee would get the chance to add craps and roulette to its existing Las Vegas-style games.

The Vice President of Southwest Florida Enterprises, Izzy Havenick-one of the owners of the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track-called the decision one of the "best days in the twenty-five years" for his family. Havenick said that it allows them to finally compete effectively in the changing Florida gaming market. Governor Charlie Crist has tentatively supported the Senate gaming plan but it is far from a done agreement.

A House version is very different from the Senate version since it calls for the removal of banked card games like blackjack at Seminole Casinos and it has yet to be decided on. A House committee is likely to decide on the bill next week, but it is early to decide when either would go to the full Senate and House.

At the point of the gaming discussion is the Florida budget, which desperately needs a new cash infusion. The Senate's gaming plan would do that. It estimates that the state could receive as much as $1 billion annually from additional games, a plan that even the most skeptical gaming critical would likely have to consider.

The money would be allocated for education. If that gaming version becomes law, the Bonita Springs dog racing track, as well as seventeen additional pari-mutuel facilities in the state, could offer Class II Video Lottery Terminals, a variation of slot machines. Those are the type that the Seminole Immokalee casino had for years before switching to Las Vegas-style slot machines this year.

Havenick said that it is still early to decide what changes that Bonita Springs racetrack might have to make to accommodate the new gaming changes.


Thursday, February 11 , 2010
Victor Sanchez