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Editorial: Bad bet on expansion of non-Indian gaming in Florida

Filed Under: Legislation | Opinion
More on: florida
Florida newspaper says an expansion of non-Indian gaming will put the state at risk:
The Legislature appears poised to roll the dice on Florida's future. This year's rigged game involves repairing Florida's gambling laws while opening the door for South Florida destination casinos — and asking voters to change the state Constitution to require statewide voter approval of any future changes. That raises the stakes for this year's legislative session, and it's a sucker bet. This state needs to bring order to its existing gambling laws, but the answer is not more gambling.

The casino debate has predictably returned in an election year, and the gambling money is flowing into the re-election campaigns for Gov. Rick Scott and state lawmakers. Senate Gaming Committee Chairman Garrett Richter, R-Naples, is promoting 453 pages of gambling legislation that rewrites existing regulations while authorizing two destination casinos in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. It's being sold as an economic boost, but a legislative report suggests otherwise.

Just last year, Spectrum Gaming Group of Atlantic City told lawmakers that Florida is so saturated in gambling that the economic impact of two new destination casinos would be fairly negligible on the state economy. State government stands to gain the most, because gambling is taxed at a higher rate than, say, tourist spending at Disney World. And those gains likely would be on the backs of Florida gamblers, not tourists. Spectrum notes that Florida residents accounted for 93 percent of the $2.4 billion in estimated revenue collected by the state's slot machines at parimutuels and the Indian casinos. And a new study from the Institute for American Values underscores the bet: Nearly half of casino visitors in other states in 2012 were 50 and older — fitting nicely with Florida's demographics.

Get the Story:
Editorial: Bad bet on gambling (The Tampa Bay Times 3/4)

Also Today:
Seminole Compact talks loom large over casino legislation (The Florida Current 3/3)
House GOP legislator rolls out gambling bill that would not allow major casinos (AP 3/3)
Casinos Missing From Florida House Gambling Bill (The News Service of Florida 3/4)
Florida House proposes overhauling gambling regulations, but no new casinos (The Miami Herald 3/4)

Related Stories:
Column: Opponents of expanded gaming push luck with new film (2/27)

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