Video Slot Machine Debate

The state's looming $4 billion budget shortfall has gambling interests betting on renewed legislative interest in video slot machines.

Once-reluctant legislative leaders have agreed to hearings on the video lottery. The first of them takes place Tuesday before the House Subcommittee on Gaming and Pari-mutuels.

Gov. Jeb Bush, who was once a staunch opponent of what he considers expanded gambling, is no longer as vehemently opposed.

The proposal would give the state Lottery Department control over the video lottery, and it exclusively raises money for education.

Attendance at Florida's 26 frontons and tracks dropped from a high of $17 million in 1980 to $2.8 million last year. Bettors have been lured away by the state lottery and other attractions, and the tracks think video gaming would get them back.