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Legislation to address Comprehensive Gambling in Florida
TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Legislature plans to address Comprehensive Gaming Legislation in the 2014 session.
In 2013, the Florida Legislature paid a consulting firm, Spectrum Gaming Group almost 400,000 dollars to study the industry.
The state senate also held four public hearings across the state, including one in Pensacola.
They were prompted by proposals by dog tracks begging for slots or other gaming, so they can stay in business.
Florida's dog tracks and Jai Alai Fronts that don't have slots, want them. Four counties have voted to allow slots in existing facilities, but the state won't grant licenses, and big players are pushing for at least one mega casino in South Florida.
"What we really want is to have one competitively bid destination or intergraded resort permit."
State senators held four hearings across the state, including one in Pensacola. They plan to use the information they gathered during those meetings to come up with comprehensive regulation of all gambling in Florida.
The Florida Chamber is the loudest voice shouting no.
DH: "Well, our view is the juice simple isn't worth the squeeze. These casinos, they need us far more then we need them."
But the position of one of the state's biggest players has gambling supporters crying foul. Disney has consistently opposed more gambling, but reports show the entertainment giant makes millions licensing its Marvel Comic Characters to slots and other entities.
Spider Man is prominently featured in the promo for a new high tech slot machine.
The Chamber says Disney bough Marvel after most of the licensing agreements were in place. Integrity Florida calls it hypocritical.
"To say that they're against the expansion of gaming to protect Florida's family-friendly brand does not ring true especially since they are profiting off of gaming themselves."
In the end, billions of dollars are at stake and that makes for what will be the most bitter battle of the coming legislative session.
We want to know what you think.
WEAR and our partner News Radio 1620 are holding a Town Hall meeting.
It's this Thursday, January 9th at 7 pm at the WSRE Studios on Pensacola State College's main campus.
If you'd like to attend, please pre-register at facebook.com/weartv
You can also watch the event live on our website.
And on our Sister Station WFGX My-35.