Cutting the Gordian Knot in Florida; New Hampshire tries yet again

Daily fantasy sports is expected to be legalized in Florida with little fuss. Resolving the casino-gambling impasse — that’s another story. Next week, a committee of the Legislature will try to reconcile two radically different bills. The state Senate one would give the Seminole Tribe the right to operate seven Class III casinos, add non-tribal slot parlors in Miami-Dade and Broward counties (one apiece), and enable slots at eight parimutuels statewide. The House bill is almost exclusively concerned with ratifying the Seminole compact at a higher-revenue rate. The Seminoles are satisfied with neither bill. However, last week’s ruling that “pre-reveal” slot-like games are legal — and wont to run hog wild in the Sunshine State — has given the Seminoles new leverage. If the Lege doesn’t explicitly outlaw the devices, the Seminoles could take their revenue and go home. That’s speaking a language politicians can understand, even if a legislative accord seems as unlikely as a year ago.

* Japan isn’t waiting for casinos to arrive to tackle the issue of disordered gambling. The measures being considered range from have players barred from pachinko parlors to redesigning the machines themselves to make them less compelling. Makes you wonder how Japan would regulate slot machines. For the time being, Singapore‘s rather paternalistic model seems to be one that Japanese officialdom is studying.

* Speaking of slots, some of Planet Hollywood Resort‘s have a new look — as does the Las Vegas Review-Journal. In both cases, it’s an improvement.

* New Hampshire is where casino bills go to die — and pro-casino ex-Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) is now a U.S. senator, so she can’t help. However, the indefatigable state Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D) has passing casino-enabling legislation and it now moves to the House, where a previous bill died by literally the slimmest of margins: one vote. Citing the competition New Hampshire faces from Massachusetts and Maine, D’Allesandro said, “It’s time for New Hampshire to do something. No state that has done this has crumbled.”

His prescription is for a two-tier, two-casino setup. The bigger of the two would pay $80 million for a 10-year license and, in return, would get 3,500 slots and 160 table games. The Category 2 casino would pay $40 million, and be restricted to 80 tables and 1,500 slots. Host communities would be chosen by local referendum. The casinos would pay a ‘blended’ tax rate of 18% on table revenue and 35% from slots. A percent of the latter would be used to fund problem-gaming programs. We like the look of the legislation but never underestimate New Hampshire politicians’ tendency to cut off their nose to spite their face.

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