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Florida Gambling Update : Major Expansion Starts Sunday

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Florida Governor Charlie Crist, during his campaign for election last year, repeatedly and emphatically said, "I oppose the expansion of gambling."

During his campaign, millions of dollars poured into his campaign fund from Indian tribes, and the well know casino operator Donald Trump via fundraisers for the governor.

His aides repeatedly supported that claim by Crist, saying, "When he says he's against the expansion of gambling, that's just what he means."

Yet, when there was an opportunity for the governor to put into force his beliefs, Charlie Crist choose not to.

On Sunday, the three racetracks and one Jai-Lai fronton in Broward will each be able to add 500 more slots machines, expand operations to 18 hours a day during the week and 24 hours a day on weekends, and allow them to have ATM machines conveniently located near the casinos.

The new law, which goes into effect due to Crist's inaction by his not signing the bill or vetoing it, also allows poker rooms to increase hours and betting limits, and to run domino games for money.

Bingo halls can now sell instant tickets, similar to the Florida Lottery with the blessing of Charlie Crist when he did sign that bill.

Governor Crist is now facing a deadline imposed by the Interior Department to work out a deal with the Seminole Indian Tribe of Florida to allow the tribe to expand gambling to allow class III gambling.

On this issue, if Crist does not make a deal and try to get revenue from the Seminoles, the Interior Department will decide which games the tribe may offer, this is not in the best interest of Florida. If the Interior Department gets involved, the result will be that Floridians will have fully operational casino gambling without the benefit of revenues derived from them.

The Seminole Tribe has been, and is willing to, negotiate with the state to find an equitable settlement, however, when Jeb Bush was leading the state he refused to take any action and actively lobbied against gambling, forcing the Seminoles to file a lawsuit with the Department of the Interior, making Gov. Crist's task all that more difficult.

More pressure for Crist to make a deal comes from pending tax break proposals that will lower property taxes statewide.

On not signing the gambling expansion bill, Crist said, "The people in Broward County have indicated how important this issue is, and I didn't want to stand in the way of it, I have the option of signing or not signing. The ones I am enthusiastic about, I will choose to sign."

As the Miami Herald pointed out, "Florida is at a critical tipping point on its way to becoming a gambling Mecca."

The Miami-Dade County Commission will decide in two weeks whether to give voters another opportunity to vote on slot machines in the January 29 referendum. Soon there will be video lottery terminals across the state and Vegas style gambling at the Seminole Tribes Casinos.

In a study conducted by casinogamblingweb.com, it was determined that casinos are welcome in the state as a form of recreation, an attraction that will lure tourists from such venues as Las Vegas and Atlantic City, by a majority of residents.

Casinogamblingweb CEO, Gordon Price said, "Florida is a natural for this type of activity, the weather is beautiful, tourists from around the world make Florida a destination, entertainers love to perform there due to the diverse population and amount of tourists. With the abundance of other countries offering casino gambling and entertainment, which threatens the tourism industry in Florida, the state needs to look at more ways to generate revenue."

Price went on to say that, "Since the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino opened in Hollywood, there has not been any discernible increase in crime, gambling addiction, or other illegal activity."

The Hard Rock has proven to be a good citizen of the community by adding an alternative for residents and tourists of South Florida.

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