$1 billion surplus shows Florida economy doesn’t need “help” from casinos

Florida’s economy has been on a positive trajectory throughout 2014, and Monday’s announcement that the state’s budget surplus for next year is nearing $1 billion is a clear sign that it is strong and growing.

While that’s welcome news for all Floridians, it may not be for outside gambling conglomerates who are expected to make yet another push during the 2015 legislative session for approval to build mega-casinos in Florida. That’s because casino interests like to prey on states with weak economies to expand their operations by offering pie-in-the-sky promises of economic prosperity—promises that seldom materialize into sustainable, long-term value.

What we can be sure of is that expanded gambling will generate crime, addiction, financial hardship for families, and burdensome costs of additional social services, regulation and law enforcement that outweigh the tax revenues casinos generate.

In media coverage of the budget surplus news, Florida House Speaker Steve Crisafulli was quoted as pledging “our commitment to fiscal responsibility” while Senate President Andy Gardiner called for legislators to “remain vigilant and responsibly plan for Florida’s future.”

“We couldn’t agree more,” said John Sowinski, President of No Casinos, Inc., part of a coalition of business, tourism and law enforcement associations that have led the years-long fight against the gambling industry’s repeated attempts to infiltrate Florida with so-called “destination resort” casinos.

“Florida has a global reputation as a family friendly tourist destination, and our beautiful weather, business friendly climate and zero personal income tax make us an increasingly attractive place to start or relocate a business, family or venture,” he said.

“Gambling is not compatible with that well-established brand and is simply the wrong model for Florida’s economic future,” Sowinski said. “During the coming legislative session we will encourage our elected leaders to maintain the state’s focus on attracting progressive business investment and diversifying our economy with higher-paying jobs, rather than succumb to the false promises of casino interests that simply want to capitalize on the strong economic foundation we’ve worked so hard to build.”