Florida Senator Denies Conflict of Interest in Push for New Gambling Bill

January 23, 2017 / by: Gray Peterson

Soon after Florida Senator Bill Galvano sponsored the new gambling expansion bill, he has found himself on the receiving end, due to his failure to declare a possible conflict of interest.

According to reports released by the Associated Press on Thursday, Galvano is said to have recently worked for a real estate company known as Turnberry Associates which owns the state-of-the-art Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami. It is believed that for a long time now, the company has been looking for a gaming license since they want to run slot machines at the hotel.

The bill introduced by Galvano covers a broad array of gambling issues affecting the state of Florida, from the ongoing negotiations with the Seminole Tribal Casino operator to the introduction of Daily Fantasy Sports regulations. However, the most original target of the bill is the expansion of slot machines to counties that have already voted and approved them. This includes the Miami-Dade County where the Fontainebleau Hotel is located.

Data recorded in the campaign finance books show that over the past few years, Fontainebleau has been a major contributor to the state’s politics. The record indicates that the Hotel has contributed close to $2.3 million in Florida politics. The donations include $800,000 that was given to the Republican Party of Florida and $90’000 which was paid to political committees headed by Galvano.

When the Senator was asked to comment on the matter, he refused to go into details about the nature of his work at Turnberry, saying that he is bound to respect the attorney-client privileges. He lamented about his legal work being dragged to the bill, stating that the measure was developed with utmost patriotism and is based on what he believes is best for the state of Florida as well as the route the Senate ought to follow based on the past years. The Senator affirmed and emphasized that whatever he was doing at Turnberry had nothing to do with their pursuit of a gaming license.

When it comes to issues of gambling, Senator Bill Galvano has been quite influential. He is well remembered for his role as one of the architects of the 2011 agreement between the Seminoles and the state. The 2011 compact rewarded the Seminoles Tribe exclusive rights to “banked” games such as blackjack, and in return, they had to pay $1billion to the state within a span of five years. 

Galvano’s new bill is expected to see a revisit of the proposal negotiated last year between the Florida Governor, Rick Scott and the Seminoles. The proposal would offer exclusive rights to the tribe on games such as Craps and Roulette for a seven-year revenue sharing deal estimated to be worth $3billlion. The move would allow blackjack to expand into pari-mutuel facilities outside the tribal lands.

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