State Senate to Hold Public Hearings on Gambling

Sep 24, 2013

The Florida Senate plans to hold four hearings around the state this fall, looking to hear from citizens on their opinion of expanded gambling in the state. Gaming issues have been among the most controversial in recent legislative sessions.

Last spring, after a law enforcement sting that netted 57 arrests, lawmakers quickly outlawed the so-called "internet cafes." The year before, they couldn't agree on a measure that would have brought Las Vegas-style resort casinos to South Florida.

This year, says the chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee, Sen. Garrett Richter (R-Naples), it's too early to tell what, if any, gambling legislation will come forward in 2014.

"The decisions that we make will be certainly well vetted because there are individuals and groups on both side of the issue", Richter said. "We are going to go out and have public hearings throughout the state to gather feedback."

Critics say gambling leads to crime and family problems. But supporters of expanded gambling say the state is already deeply involved, with plenty of casinos and the state-run Florida Lottery.