Fla. Senate committee approves destination casinos

Measure would allow Vegas-style gambling at pari-mutuels

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - On the eve of the 2012 legislative session, Florida lawmakers are betting on a gaming expansion.

Ten members of a Florida Senate committee took a preliminary vote on whether to allow resort casinos in the state Monday. Seven voted in favor of the massive legislation to allow destination casinos, and three voted against it.

The vote is good news for the Genting Group, which is planning to build a mega-resort casino on the site of the Miami Herald building.

Under the revised bill, there would be two destination casinos in Miami-Dade County, one in Broward County, another in Palm Beach and one in Tampa, if approved by voters.

The measure would also allow existing horse and dog tracks to offer Vegas-style gambling. There are seven tracks and frontons with gambling in South Florida. They would face a 10 percent tax rate for casinos, the same for directly competing pari-mutuels.

The state House version of the bill is expected to get its first committee meeting next week.

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