Gambling bill negotiations continue through weekend

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Florida House and Senate negotiators are reportedly continuing their negotiations on gambling bills throughout this weekend, in hopes that an agreement can be reached and approved by the end of next week in the extended legislative session.

The Senate made the first <a href="http://www.flsenate.gov/data/session/2009/Senate/appbills/offers/gg///Offer_04292009_0800.pdf">formal offer </a>to the House on Wednesday, and the House made its <a href="http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?PublicationType=Committees&amp;CommitteeId=&amp;Session=2009&amp;DocumentType=Budget%20Conference%20Documents&amp;FileName=Conference%20Comm%20on%20Gaming%20%20-%20House%20Offer%201%20-%2005-01-09.pdf">counteroffer</a> on Friday. Here’s a summary of where the offers stand on poker:

<strong>LIMITS:</strong> The House is sticking to its original plan for poker limits – bet limits of $50 and no-limit buy-ins of up to $1,000 (the Senate seeks no limits on bets or buy-ins). However, the House will accept the Senate’s counteroffer of no-limit poker at Seminole Tribe poker rooms.

<strong>TOURNAMENTS:</strong> While tournaments are not specifically addressed in either bill, Ante Up’s understanding, based on the formula currently used to decide tournament buy-in limits, is that tournaments could have a buy-in of up to $8,000 under the House’s plan.

<strong>HOURS:</strong> The House will accept the Senate’s plan of 18 hours of poker room operation during the week, and 24 hours on Saturdays and Sunday. (The House originally sought 24 hours seven days a week). It’s unclear whether these hour restrictions will apply to Seminole Tribe rooms.

<strong>QUARTER HORSE RACING:</strong> The Senate offered to require quarter horse tracks to put 50% of poker room revenues into racing purses, but the House counteroffer would require all permitholders to file an agreement between them and their respective association (horse, dog or jai-alai) before they can enjoy relaxed poker room regulation.

<strong>AGE: </strong>The House will accept the Senate’s offer of 21 as the minimum age to play or enter the gaming floor. (The original House plan would have allowed 18-20-year-olds to enter the gaming floor, but not play.)

<strong>ENFORCEMENT: </strong>The House will accept the Senate’s plan to have the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering enforce the regulations for the Seminole Tribe. (The House hadn’t designated an enforcement agency).

<strong>PERMITS:</strong> The House is standing firm on its desire for a permitholder to be allowed to open a poker room in its first year of operation, provided it has a full schedule of live racing. (The Senate wants two full years of racing before a poker room can open). A separate House counteroffer would allow a dormant jai-alai permitholder to covert that permit to a greyhound racing permit, under certain circumstances. Published reports say this would allow Palm Beach Kennel Club to open a second greyhound racing track and poker room in Palm Beach County, though it technically also could allow Palm Beach Kennel Club to operate its current poker room 24 hours a day if the final bill only allows permitholders to stay open 18 hours a day.