Major Florida Gambling Expansion Talks Begin

A new proposal is now being debated that would allow mega-gaming resorts to be built on Florida beaches.

A tourist walking along any Florida beach will come across many shops selling towels, bathing suits, sunglasses, souvenirs, ice cream, hot dogs, and alcohol. Any local strolling along the beach will find hundreds of miles of sand and sun, not to mention, other beautiful people, and fun.

But if Ellyn Bogdanoff, a Florida legislator from Ft. Lauderdale, and Sheldon Adelson, the famous Las Vegas mogul, have their way, those walking the beaches will also come across complete casino gambling and entertainment facilities, packed with theatres, shopping centers, spas, restaurants, hotels, and of course, a full line of Vegas-style casino games.

The proposal by Ellyn Bogdanoff, who, ironically, won her House seat on an anti-gambling campaign, and then proceeded to help pass a 2006 bill that taxed pari-mutuels on a country high 50%, would allow five to seven Vegas-style gaming resorts to be built along specific Florida beaches, provided voters approve them in local referendums. Prospective applicants would then need to be approved by a Florida gaming commission.

The one-eighty by Bogdanoff was made because she claims the state has lost the battle to deny casino gambling in Florida, therefore she is interested in creating more competition with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who is currently by far the largest gaming operator in the state.

Applicants for the new mega-casino resorts would range from local pari-mutuels, to Vegas superstars like Sheldon Adelson, who owns the Las Vegas Sands and The Venetian in Las Vegas and Macau.

Adelson said in an interview with the Miami Herald last week that he would be interested in building in Tampa and perhaps, Orlando. He is interested in building on the beach, as long as it’s within a twenty minute driving range of an international airport. Ft. Lauderdale and Miami would be the two main points of interest for Adelson.

Seminole Compact for Eduction

Currently, the Seminoles are fighting for a compact to be signed by the state government that would allow them a monopoly on gaming in the state. Governor Charlie Crist backs the Seminoles and is also fighting hard to get a deal done.

Just yesterday the governor proposed a new education budget that will not work without a gambling deal with the Seminoles. Crist is using ‘help the children’ sentiment to push Florida legislators to pass a deal.

Earlier this month a committee in the Florida House unanimously voted down the Seminole compact, but Crist has not given up hope and said he is still willing to negotiate to get a new deal signed this year.

“That’s certainly conceivable,” the governor said. “We want to do whatever we can to get that money for Florida’s children.”

Crist also said he may be interested in Bogdanoff’s proposal, but claimed he had not seen the proposal yet so he could not make a judgement.

“It sounds intriguing to me,” he told reporters.

Planning for the Future

Hearings to consider a new Seminole gambling compact, as well as Bogdanoff’s proposal, are set for February. Depending on who you ask, either has a shot at passing, although most believe Bogdanoff’s proposal is more unlikely to gain traction.

Those that support a Seminole deal, like House speaker, Larry Cretul, believe the state is not ready for full mega-gaming resorts, while Adelson believes the smartest thing Florida can do is to allow them.

Adelson said that allowing just one new resort would create over 7,000 jobs and bring much more money to the state than if the Seminole compact is signed.

Those that fear Florida will become ‘all about gambling’, need not worry, according to Adelson. Bogdanoff’s proposal would allow only five to seven gaming resorts to be built so that the market does not become over saturated with gaming facilities.

Bogdanoff also plans on discussing the possibility of adding slots to West Palm Beach gaming facilities, as well as other gaming sites around the state, before the Legislature starts their new session next month.

Bogdanoff’s goal is to create jobs for Florida residents, to increase tourism, while also bringing much needed money to the state, without raising taxes.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!