ICYMI: St. Augustine Record editorial says compact “not worth potential price”

In case you missed it, please take a few minutes to read the editorial below from theSt. Augustine Record.


 

Editorial: Casino pact payoff not worth the potential price

December 9, 2015

Gov. Rick Scott’s new pact with Florida’s Seminole tribe is sure to put the state’s residents back on the gambling warpath as the legislature argues the points in the 2016 legislative session.

A lot of money has been spent both for and against casino gambling in Florida this decade. The Seminole deal is sure to bring big bucks from both sides of the gambling issue. Interestingly, much of the money fighting the Seminole pact will likely be from the gaming industry itself.

The deal Scott worked out with the tribe guarantees it a near-monopoly of casino games — and of casinos themselves — in this state. It essentially locks out competitors for 20 years.

Scott calls the deal a very good one. He told reporters that it creates “a stable and predictable gaming environment” in the state.

We suppose a gaming monopoly would be, by definition, stable. Predictable is another story altogether.

Who would have predicted the outcome of this most recent pact?

Scott seems to want to spin the story as one of controlling legal gambling and downsizing it — or at least pruning its limbs of growth.

That seems unlikely. The deal allows for two more South Florida casinos to be built. It expands gambling slot machines and blackjack to some race tracks — and allows expansion of parimutuel betting sites around the state.

Scott said that he got the tribe to agree to new “limits” on gambling. Here’s his new limit: 6,000 slot machines and 300 gambling tables per venue. The new deal also allows the seven existing Seminole-owned casinos to expand gaming offerings to craps tables and roulette.

It does not seem like much of a pinch on the industry, from where we sit.

The deal is supposed to come with a $3 billion guaranteed payback from the Seminole tribe over the next seven years. That’s a lot of money. But where will it go?

The deal is not done. It will have to be approved by the House and Senate next year, They can’t agree on anything. But the gambling issue is a hot button, and you can bet that incumbents and challengers lining up for the 2016 elections will be pushing it one way or another.

Whenever and wherever big money is tied to an issue with a moral agenda on the other side, it will be a show.

Gambling isn’t a question in Florida anymore, it’s a reality.

So the issue isn’t either/or. It will be about limits. From where we sit, Florida is growing faster than most states; tourism is at an all-time high. We have budget surpluses driven by a substantial turnaround in the real estate market and both residential and commercial development. The business outlook is excellent.

There’s really no basis for the excuse that we need additional casino revenue in order to prosper, at least in Florida — especially at the flip-side cost of casino gambling in terms of crime and quality-of-life issues that any city can tell you about — anywhere casino gambling has landed.

You rarely see one without the other.

To read the editorial on the St. Augustine Record’s website click here