Proposals target gambling addiction

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After the launch this month of sports betting in Florida, lawmakers could consider a proposal to establish a new state program aimed at curbing gambling addiction. Lawmakers approved a gambling deal with the Seminole Tribe during a special legislative session in May.

The tribe on Nov. 1 quietly launched online sports betting in Florida, amid continuing challenges in federal court. Sen. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, on Tuesday filed a measure (SB 936) that would create the Compulsive and Addictive Gambling Prevention Program within the Florida Gaming Control Commission. Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, and Rep. Tracie Davis, D-Jacksonville, filed an identical proposal (HB 405) this month in the House.

The bills will be considered during the 2022 legislative session, which starts in January. “The Legislature recognizes the potential for persons participating in authorized wagering or gambling activities to develop compulsive and addictive gambling behavior,” an introductory part of the bills said.

Under the proposal, gambling facilities such as pari-mutuels, cardrooms and casinos would be directed to conduct employee-training programs aimed at identifying characteristics of compulsive gambling behavior. Employees also would be trained to supply compulsive gamblers with support resources.

Gambling facilities also would be required to offer a “self-exclusion program” that “allows a person to voluntarily agree to be barred from the facility, or any affiliated platforms or properties, and from all types of gambling offered.” Gambling facilities would be required to participate in the Compulsive and Addictive Gambling Prevention Program.

Baxley on Tuesday also filed a measure (SB 938) that would provide a public-records exemption for information about people who seek assistance through the Compulsive and Addictive Gambling Prevention Program.

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