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Florida’s Gaming Industry Goes Tech At Fast Pace

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Florida's new gamers belong to a younger demographic that is interested in tech-based games. Photo: Flickr.

Florida's new gamers belong to a younger demographic that is interested in tech-based games. Photo: Flickr.

Dog racing and slot machines are becoming passe according to some of the state’s gaming experts.  They’re seeing a new group of gamers buy into the industry. They’re younger; and they’re more likely to play a game on a computer or cell phone than at a table.

Dave Jonas heads Casino Miami where he’s seen slot machine use go down and the number of fantasy football leagues go up.

“Everybody’s doing it. I think it’s in the best interest of the states—and it’s not just Florida—to figure out a way to regulate this behavior so it can be done properly, and that the state can benefit from it from a tax perspective and other ways,” he said after a panel discussion at the Florida Gaming Congress.

Michael Pollock, managing director of Spectrum Gaming Group, which hosts the annual conference, says Florida’s lawmakers will have to find ways to please the federally backed tribal gaming groups while welcoming the growing commercial gaming industry.

“The technology is changing quickly. The demographics are changing quickly. The policies that are dependent on and guide those have to change, as well.”

But Jonas believes the state’s deal with the Seminole Indians over table games will be the biggest obstacle.

“The compact contemplates really closing off a lot of innovation in the future based on making decisions today that will last for in some cases ten or fifteen or twenty years in the future if we lock out the ability to bring these games in.”

Analysts add that the Florida Lottery, one of the state’s key revenue drivers, is at stake and that legislators will have to think of ways to revive the game for younger residents.

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Renata Sago