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Opinion: Billionaire makes down payment on casino in Florida

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: florida, internet, seminole, sheldon adelson

Sheldon Adelson in June 2010. Photo from Bectrigger / Wikipedia

Why is billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson donating to a medical marijuana initiative in Florida? Frank Cerabino thinks it's about the outcome of Class III gaming compact talks with the Seminole Tribe:
Adelson's primary interest in Florida is as a locale for his casinos.

Gov. Rick Scott has been in negotiations with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which wants to renew its contract to run the only Las-Vegas style casinos permitted in Florida. Part of the current deal the tribe has with Florida expires next year.

Meanwhile, Adelson and another casino operation, the Genting Group, have been lobbying hard and donating heavily to the political campaigns of Florida's leaders in an effort to get them to rewrite the gambling laws in the state to permit a few casinos in South Florida. Genting, a Malaysian company, has plans to build the world's largest casino in Miami.

But the casino interests have a strong opponent in the Walt Disney Co., which sees the expansion of gambling in Florida as a threat to its theme-park business. So Disney has been lobbying and donating in opposition to the expansion of casino gambling.

This clash of deep-pocket titans has put the Florida Legislature in a state of paralysis. Rather than take a side, lawmakers decided last session to wait and see what sort of agreement Scott and the Seminoles will make.

So Adelson's $2.5 million gesture against medicinal marijuana in Florida is really just another down payment on his casino plans and a way to keep Scott's ear.

Get the Story:
Frank Cerabino: How did casino interests get mixed up in marijuana debate? (Cox Newspapers 6/16)

Related Stories:
Opinion: Billionaire is winning battle against Internet gambling (6/3)

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