Destin, Florida is located on some of the most-visited tourist spots in the state. It’s the ideal getaway with its white-sugar sand beaches and its proximity to Mobile, Alabama; South Georgia and other parts of Florida. While it would appear that the area would be a prime destination for gaming, the city council of the area has approved an ordinance that prohibits gambling within the city limits.
Gaming in Florida
In general, Florida has two types of casinos. One type of casino is operated by a Native American tribe, which is not regulated by state or local law, but through a treaty with the federal government. There are also those located along Florida’s huge coastline that are casino cruises, and clients sail into international waters to gamble. Dog tracks and horse tracks are also available. The state of Florida participates in a lottery, both at the state and at the national levels. Florida also has an arrangement to have table games at “clubs.” These games are found at racetracks, where people pay to join the club and play cards.
The Law in Destin
The closest gaming franchise close to Destin is a greyhound racing track in Pensacola. The area of Destin has long opposed gambling, partly because of the state’s conservatism in comparison to South Florida. The city council’s new ordinance bans nearly all forms of gaming in the city, with the exception of charity bingo tournaments, and the state lottery.
The city council stated that in addition to the conservatism of the population, the council believes that gambling enterprises target those members of the population that are poor. The industry would be a drain on poor families, leaving them with less money to spend on essentials for their families. The council states that as gambling enters a community, problems arise such as gambling addiction, crime, fraud and corruption.
This ordinance prohibits gambling to the extent that hotels and convenience stores cannot promote gaming, and gambling clubs are prohibited. The ordinance was seen to have widespread support in the community of Destin.
The city council in Destin fast-tracked the ordinance because of the upcoming November elections, and the looming issue of sports betting in the state. First, the state is set to vote in November on toughening of casino gambling statute. If the legislation passes, any new casinos will require voter approval statewide, rather than just approval of the state legislature. If the measure fails, the state legislature will retain the power to decide whether or not to allow additional casinos or other forms of gaming to be built in the state.
Second, there is the looming issue of sportsbooks. Currently, Florida does not allow sports gaming to take place in their state. However, the Florida state legislature is considering sports gaming in some casinos and racetracks, although no bill has been drafted and no vote has been taken. The state legislature, which does not reconvene until after January, does not currently have any drafted possible legislation to legalize gaming. Native American casinos in Florida have also discussed adding sportsbooks to their establishments. But these casinos, while permitted to offer sports gaming by the federal government, are subject to Florida’s sports gaming restrictions. It will be interesting to see if Florida will offer sports books, as it is currently bordered on all sides by states who have no intention of legalizing sports gaming.
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