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Florida House Approves Gambling Agreement With Seminole Tribe

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - On Wednesday, the Florida House passed a bill expanding gambling opportunities in the state.

The bill, passed 38-1, is a 30-year agreement between the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and could generate over $2 billion in revenue over the next five years.

The bill adds three main items to the gambling scene in Florida: sports betting, roulette, and craps in Seminole Tribe Casinos. It's a bill that one local organization says could increase gambling addictions.

Richard Pinsky works with the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling and says "Every telephone call we receive is answered live, so you can imagine the thousands of calls that we get and that will increase by another 65 counties."

The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling mostly operates out of Broward and Miami-Dade counties, but soon, Pinsky, says that will need to change.

"They are going to be primarily, we believe, in the younger demographic because of the sports betting," said Pinsky.

The bill passed in the House on Wednesday allows the Seminole Tribe of Florida to offer sports betting exclusively and adds roulette and craps to tribe casinos, including the one near Tampa.

"Sports betting appeals to a younger demographic, and by that we mean college students and folks under the age of 30," said Pinsky.

Pinsky says the group at highest risk for addiction to gambling is people under the age of 30.

"Is going to absolutely going to need some reaching out to say, 'I have a problem,'" said Pinsky.

The bill also has benefits, bringing in $2.5 million to the state.

"Florida has many, many needs. Everything from a shortfall in Medicaid, a shortfall for the safety net in hospitals, we have a shortfall in minimum wage," said Pinsky.

Pinsky says the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling is asking the state legislature for $4 million to help with the rise in the number of people who will need gambling addiction help.

"Heart-wrenching when you see how it impacts a family financially, emotionally, behaviorally," said Pinsky.

The bill still needs to be approved by the United States Department of Interior and if it is, sports gambling will be allowed October 15.

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