Could Florida Allow More Casino Gambling?

January 12, 2011

Could more casino gambling be on the way for Florida, even Escambia County?

The panel of lawmakers that helped orchestrate the Legislature’s gaming compact with the Seminole Indian Tribe is now taking bets on whether it can bring in more winnings if non-Indian, Vegas style casinos or online poker are authorized to operate in Florida.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee is beginning to look at research compiled by its staff that poses a variety of options the Legislature could consider if it wants to expand gaming, including opening the door for huge hotel and casino chains like Las Vegas Sands or Wynn Resorts to enter the Florida market.

Newly inaugurated Gov. Rick Scott has met with representatives of Las Vegas Sands and lobbyists for the group met with lawmakers last spring as the Legislature worked on the gaming compact and looked at other options for the state.

And Senate President Mike Haridopolos told a Tallahassee radio show this week that he was open to an expansion, if a large number of senators were interested in the issue.

Senate Regulated Industries Committee Chairman Dennis Jones is in the process of drafting legislation to allow more gambling options if the committee decides to proceed. He told reporters that inviting Las Vegas style gaming to the state could be appealing because it would allow cities to attract big convention business.

“A lot of people just get tired of going to the Peabody or Gaylord (Palms),” Jones said, referencing two Florida convention hotels. “Other than that, where are you going to go? Really, where you going to go?”

Both representatives of Las Vegas Sands and Wynn Resorts offered their insights to lawmakers should they decide to go ahead with a proposal and assured them that they would likely invest in Florida, which Wynn lobbyist Slater Bayliss said “undoubtedly would create tens of thousands of jobs” through building the property and then operating a casino, restaurant and hotel.

The potential gaming expansion is also backed by at least one representative of the state’s business community, the Associated Industries of Florida.

“We believe that destination resorts in Florida will utilize gaming in the proper manner as an economic engine that creates more than 100,000 jobs, signify international and domestic tourism and also brings world class convention and trade shows to the state of Florida,” AIF President Barney Bishop told the committee.

The state’s gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe may provide some obstacles depending on the timing of any new projects. If the state does approve casino expansion, it could potentially violate a clause in the compact that gives the tribe exclusive rights to operate banked card games such as blackjack. If a Las Vegas-style operation is up and running in Florida before the compact’s banked card authority is up for renegotiation in 2015, the tribe could reduce or cancel its payments to the state.

Jones said he was not worried because it would take any company that does invest in building a huge facility several years to build the operation and ultimately shuffle its first desk of cards.

“It would not even impact the compact until the first card was played,” he said.

Opposition also could come from religious groups, and organizations that work to promote family values. In the past, a number of religious and social groups have opposed expansions of gambling in Florida, though none appeared before Jones’ committee on Tuesday.

The committee could also examine the value of legalizing, and therefore regulating, Internet poker.

Melanie Brenner, the executive director of Poker Voters of America said there are an estimated 900,000 online poker players in Florida already, so if the state chose to legalize it and regulate it, there could be an immediate infusion of cash.

Online poker isn’t an expansion of gaming,” she said. “It is going on already.”

Jones noted that lawmakers have until the first day of the legislative session in March to file bills and that the committee still needed to wait and see what was filed. He also said that it is his policy not to take up bills that are lacking a House companion.

By Kathleen Haughney
The News Service Florida


16 Responses to “Could Florida Allow More Casino Gambling?”

  1. Ron on October 22nd, 2014 7:18 pm

    Us tourists keep going out of state to gamble.Smarten up and allow slot gambling.there are so much money to be made between fuel,food lodging, not to mention taxes and jobs!.Why not?

  2. Madeline DiSano on January 13th, 2012 9:37 am

    Yes I agree we need casino in florida. because internet cafes are all over Fl.

    and making money for individuals who own them instead of going to the state and

    helping it. Hoping that the comments will help get the internets out of our state

    and casino in We may not come out winers in casino but believe me our chances

    are lot better of winning then internets who make owners rich.

  3. Nick DiSano on January 13th, 2012 9:00 am

    I say yes to having casinos in Florida for the following reasons.
    1. Thousands of floridians are flocking to Biloxi,Tunica and other casinos.
    2. The Indian casinos in Tampa and Hollywood are overcrowded which is a testament that people want casinos in Florida. additional casinos would create jobs and contribute to state funds.
    3. There are hundreds of internet cafes in almost every county that provide internet gambling. Make no mistake, this is a highly money making machine which provides several games at ridiculous low odds of winning that having casinos with a better odds of winning would be a breath of fresh air.

  4. Me on January 29th, 2011 8:39 pm

    I say YES. Opening the casinos will bring more jobs and possibly help the real estate market, in addition to the money it will bring into the state just to build the casinos.

  5. BERNIE on January 24th, 2011 10:58 pm

    It would be good for florida but they need to study where they will build it where will they zone it who will benifit by owning the land.
    plus they need to look iy to the inpact they can do to the Cruise Lines that provide jobs to.

    Jobs yes i vote yes but where you you zone the land to do this. Let me guess one guy will buy up all the land and then flip it to the big boys( they sent the guy before since they have cut a deal with the Governor. not fair ok it should all be out in the open and dune ramdom. like a liquer drawing..
    bernie Maribona (real-estate developer) south florida

  6. slotgirl on January 22nd, 2011 10:18 am

    i would love to see gambling in north florida!the other viewers are right the people that are traveling to alabama & mississippi all the time to boost there economy is not right.let’s keep it in our own state. [ FLORIDA ]

  7. David Huie Green on January 13th, 2011 5:35 pm

    “God’s truth tells us that money gotten through means other than work is not blessed and will come to no good (Proverbs 20:21)”

    Please consider what Proverbs 20:21 actually says: “An inheritance [may be] gotten hastily at the beginning; but the end thereof shall not be blessed”.
    using the KJV.

    You could generalize to other ways of obtaining money, but the actual wording deals with something other than gambling. I just don’t want to put words in God’s mouth. He might not like it.

    Further, it wouldn’t apply because they aren’t talking about making people rich through their winnings at gambling, rather through their LOSINGS-a tax on fools, collected by the casino workers. The casino workers ARE working for their income.

    I don’t favor it as government policy, believing government should not encourage foolish actions as they do when they push gambling rather than showing the millions impoverished by losses. Even so, it is a vice which should be permitted because people should be free in their actions as long as they don’t hurt others.

    Those who think it will enrich the state might consider that the money lost might have paid for things produced by others, thereby giving jobs for things which made both lives better. For example, when the lottery gets high, many people buy tickets rather than pay bills. After they lose, they still have the bills to pay along with late payment fees. It hurts them.

    They should be free to hurt themselves, but never forget they are hurt by it, no reason to encourage it.

    David for freedom for fools

  8. Doe on January 13th, 2011 10:54 am

    I agree with Carol. I live in southwest Georgia and people from our area have to drive all the way to Mississippi to gamble. It doesn’t make sense that all this Georgia money should have to go that far away from home. Georgia and Florida (preferably the Tallahassee, Panacea, Appalachicola area) should be taking advantage of the jobs, taxes and revenue generated by casinos.

  9. bigbill1961 on January 12th, 2011 10:02 pm

    NO!! The temptation of fast and easy money will only do further damage to families struggling to make ends meet. Man cannot profit from ill-gotten gains. Take one look at the neighborhoods in Biloxi before you think gambling is good. I vote ABSOLUTELY NO!!

  10. Sam on January 12th, 2011 4:13 pm

    The state of Florida is already suffering and almost broke. The gambling dollars will help the state and create thousands of jobs. Why is there even a debate when so many people are losing their jobs and struggling to feed their families!

    It’s 2011 not 1950 we need to move forward and not live in the past. I vote YES!!!

  11. CreamPuff on January 12th, 2011 11:34 am

    People who want to throw their hard earned money away will just go elsewhere
    to gamble as it is legal so close to us, so i agree with just going ahead and
    bringing it here and lets bring more revenue into this state to say nothing of
    the JOBS!

  12. tlad on January 12th, 2011 11:18 am

    I vote NO! I have seen what casinos do to the neighborhoods around them, besides, God’s truth tells us that money gotten through means other than work is not blessed and will come to no good (Proverbs 20:21).

  13. bama54 on January 12th, 2011 8:08 am

    The Creeks have a inside track, they own the Dog track!!

  14. Carol Hall on January 12th, 2011 7:40 am

    Why should Al, MS, and LA get all the money from Florida residents that go to these states daily to gamble. People in Pensacola take buses from a company there to Ms to gamble. Why should we send that money out of state. It would bring in more tourist, more jobs and new industry. Why should we let South Florida make all the money. We sure could use some of that cash here in northwest FL.

  15. Oversight on January 12th, 2011 5:57 am

    The government’s desire for more and more revenue is never ending, so yes, I’m sure it’ll do anything for a buck!

  16. me on January 12th, 2011 4:28 am

    I vote yes why only the indians be allowed to prosper from gambling. If we had no gambling in the state at all I would feel different but its already here so let’s expand and boost our economy

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