A revised version of the Destination Resort Bill, filed in the Florida Senate last Friday, shows significant changes evidently aimed at winning approval and moving the bill to the Senate floor.
The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, a Republican from Fort Lauderdale, has scaled back the tax on pari-mutuels from 35 percent to 18 percent and increased the tax rate on destination resorts from 10 percent to 18 percent.
According to the revised version of Senate Bill 710, 97.5 percent of all revenue generated by the destination resort casinos would go to the state’s general fund, with none going to local municipalities or counties where the resorts would be located. The bill authorizes three destination resorts in South Florida, two in Miami-Dade and one in Broward.
Other changes to the bill include a $5 million annual license fee, up from $2 million, and a requirement for a local referendum even in Miami-Dade and Broward, where voters have already approved gambling.
"It's a dramatic change from the originally filed bill," said Dan Adkins, chief executive officer of Mardi Gras Casino in Hollywood. "It allows pari-mutuels to open anywhere in the state and become full casinos after voters approve."
Bogdanoff has said from the moment she filed her bill that her goal is to limit gambling in the state and regulate it more strictly. In an email message to members of the Senate committee hearing the bill, Bogdanoff wrote that her revised bill would "substantially reduce the number of locations that offer gaming."