Florida Lawmakers Gear Up For Another Round Of Gaming Talks
Florida lawmakers have been down this path before. Lobbyists for the gambling industry have spent the better part of the past decade trying to convince Tallahassee legislators that bringing full-scale casino resort gambling to the Sunshine State would be a good thing.
Heading into the Fall legislative session, the lobbyists are again out in full force, only this time there appears to be a changing of the guard in the lawmakers' thought process. For the first time in nearly a decade, some lawmakers are convinced that this will be the session that the gaming laws change in Florida.
"In the past 25 years, gaming industries have been transformed, not just in Florida, but all around the country," said state Senator Garrett Richter. "The state's approach to regulating and taxing gaming activities has not kept pace."
Gaming moguls such as Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn have been boisterous in their attempt to bring their high profile Vegas brands to Florida. Until now, their efforts have fallen on deaf ears in Tallahassee, but this time around feels different to those who have been there for the past debates.
"Florida is heading towards becoming the next state with full service casinos," said analyst Thomas Waters. "The momentum has been building, and it has gotten to the point where lawmakers are now watching how other states have thriving economies thanks to gambling revenue. Full-scale casino gambling is no longer an if, but rather a when."
That when could be this Fall when lawmakers will discuss several different legislative plans that are being floated in the state capital. With all of the plans, lawmakers have to be aware of a compact that is currently in effect with the Seminole Indians. The compact ran for five years, and allows the Seminoles exclusive rights to blackjack, baccarat, and other table games.
Pari-mutuel facilities have been lobbying to get in on the table game action, and big-name gaming companies have already started preparations for a change in law.
Genting, a company based in Malaysia, purchased the former home of the Miami Herald several years ago, and has already shown blueprints for a Resorts World Miami resort. The plans have space on the second level for a gaming floor, should legislators follow through with the plan to expand gambling.