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Casino Gambling to be discussed at Thursday Town Hall

State lawmakers are considering the future of gambling in Florida and they want your input.

A public meeting was held on the Pensacola State College campus.
The Florida Senate Gaming Committee commissioned a gambling impact study -- it's 708 pages long.

Gambling has deep roots in Florida -- going all the way back to the 1890's.
In the last three decades, the gaming industry has changed -- here in Florida -- and across the country

Gambling cruises, card rooms, casinos and internet cafes all came along.
All the while, Florida's regulation and taxing of gaming didn't keep up with the times.

Many people feel Florida's layers of exceptions and patches aren't doing enough to promote the state's overall economic and social welfare.

Tom Thompson/Opposes Gambling:   "Look at the lotto, what it was going to do for education. You know, what has it done? We still pour money into it. It never comes up with what they say it's going to be."

The Florida senate is looking to replace the current makeshift regulation structure with a comprehensive statewide approach to gaming policy.

They commissioned that 400,000 dollar study on the effects and economic impact of gambling in Florida -- a study that was late -- and leaves many questioning it's findings.

"Even the study that they had done proved that if they legalized it would not come up with all this money - and they sent it back and wanted another study done."

Opinions are strong on both sides of this issue.
If Florida does move to allow destination casinos in the state -- it's probable that one could be placed here in the panhandle.

The Muscogee Tribe is already moving towards securing a casino in Walton County through Native American Gaming Legislation.

And right now it's a short drive across state lines to find the action...
Tyler Vines/PSC Student: "I think it will be here whether we want it to or not. As long as it's controlled, I approve."

James Phillips/Attended Public Forum: "It's hard to say. We're in the south. It's where the Bible belt is."

We want to know what you think about legalized casino-style gaming in Florida.
WEAR and our partner News Radio 1620 are holding a Town Hall meeting.
      
It's this Thursday at 7 pm at the WSRE studios on Pensacola State College's main campus.

Pre-register at facebook.com/weartv if you'd like to attend.
      
You can also watch the event live on our website.
And on our Sister Station WFGX My-35.