Florida Gambling Advocates Dealt A Blow By Independent Report
Lawmakers in Florida have been lobbied heavily by the gaming industry to add casino resorts to the already rich gaming industry in the Sunshine State. This week, an independent report indicated that additional casinos would not have a major economical impact for Florida.
The Spectrum Gaming Group was called on by legislators in Florida to conduct a study on the impact that additional gaming would have on the state. The result of that study was shocking to some, with the economic impact the biggest shock to those who are supporting gaming expansion.
"Florida is already a gambling-rich state," said Joseph Weinart, executive vice-president of Spectrum Gaming. The report went even further with an explanation of why Florida may be over-thinking the economical impact of casino resorts.
"The expansion of casino gambling, whether on a small scale or a very large scale, would have, at best, a moderately positive impact on the state economy," read the report.
When Governor Rick Scott took office, it was assumed by many that casino resorts would make it to the Sunshine State sooner rather than later. Las Vegas Sands founder and CEO Sheldon Adelson flew Scott on his private jet the night Scott was elected.
Sands and Genting Resorts have had lobbyists in Florida for several years, attempting to get current laws changed to include additional casino licenses. Those attempts have, up until now, failed. The fever has been growing in recent years for additional gaming, leading to the legislators calling on the Spectrum Group to provide a private study.
Currently, Floridians are the major contributor to the casino gambling industry, accounting for 93% of the states current gaming revenue. The report shows that figure would likely stay the same, even if casino resorts were added to the gaming options.
The state has a decision to make in the next couple of years, as a gaming compact with the Seminole Indians will expire and have to either be renewed or scrapped. The Seminoles, under the compact, have exclusive rights to table games such as blackjack and baccarat in the state.
Many lawmakers believe Florida would be better served allowing the Seminoles compact to expire, while preparing for casino resorts that could add table games at a much higher tax rate than the Seminoles pay the state.