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Florida Lawmakers Going After Tourism Dollars With Casino Resorts

A Florida appeals court paved the way last week for lawmakers to expand casino gambling in the state. Legislators, however, have their eye on more tourism dollars than a simple casino resort could bring.

An appeals court on Thursday backed a lower court ruling that Hialeah Racetrack can add slot machines without voter approval. The objection had come from anti-gaming groups and fellow gaming establishments, who both believed that when voters approved slots in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, it was done with a specific number of gaming establishments in mind. The court did not agree.

Now, because of the ruling, pro-gambling lawmakers in the Sunshine State feel that the opening is there to bring Vegas-style casino resorts to South Florida. Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff and Representative Erik Fresen are preparing legislation that would bring three casino resorts to South Florida.

The Sunshine State is already one of the largest tourism states in the country. Adding casino resorts would only add to the reputation of being a great vacation spot. The lawmakers proposing the resorts, however, are interested in more than just the gaming.

The proposals being offered up are calling for developers to not only guarantee they can bring the most jobs and revenue into the state, but also guarantee one of the largest investment requirements in US history. Each developer chosen to gain a license for a casino resort will be required to invest over $2 billion. It is the type investment plan that could have a major economic impact in South Florida.

South Beach already has the Miami Heat, some of the hottest clubs in the US, and the climate that celebrities and high rollers like to flock to. Adding casino resorts will only add to the attraction of Florida for vacationers.

Over the past couple of years, Pennsylvania has become the up-and-coming state when it comes to the casino industry. Pennsylvania casinos have taken the East Coast by storm. The state cannot, however, offer the same luxuries that travelers would enjoy in Florida.

Florida has slowly been moving towards full-scale casino gambling over the past few years. Last year, lawmakers completed a compact with the Seminole Indians allowing blackjack and baccarat at five of the Seminoles seven casinos in the state. A new law allowing three casino resorts would void the compact with the Seminoles, but lawmakers understand that they may have to take a step back to move forward in the future.

It has been estimated that adding full-scale gambling resorts in Florida could bring billions of dollars each year in gaming tax revenue. Thousands of jobs would also be created due to the grand master plan of adding shopping, restaurants, and other entertainment venues to the casinos.

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