Editorial: Florida gambling study leaves no cards face up
Jac Wilder VerSteeg
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
October 13, 2013
Spectrum Gaming Group is in the numbers racket, so to speak. The Florida Legislature is supposed to rely on Spectrum’s numbers as it sets gambling policy. So it is unsettling that the numbers in Spectrum’s analysis have been tentative and uncertain.
The News Service of Florida reported last week that, “A massive expansion of gambling throughout Florida could boost state coffers by $1 billion a year instead of a $22 million loss previously estimated, authors of a gaming study told a Senate committee.” The shift fed suspicion the numbers are being finessed to make it easier for gambling interests to prevail in their push for legislative approval for “destination resort” casinos at least as plush as those in Las Vegas. Genting, which operates mega-casinos around the world, already has bought a 30-acre waterfront site in Miami.
Fair or not, the delays and revisions undermine the Spectrum report’s credibility. That, in turn, erodes hope that Spectrum’s analysis could provide reliable answers and guidance on this contentious issue.
The ramifications of expanded gambling are extraordinarily complex, particularly in Florida. Allowing new casinos could end the more than $230 million the Seminole Tribe pays the state each year for exclusive rights in tribal casinos. What has the state gained if tourists who used to stay four days at Walt Disney World instead spend two days in Orlando and two days at Genting in Miami? Would shops and restaurants at mega-casinos poach business from existing shops and restaurants? What would happens to the “racinos” in Miami-Dade and Broward counties that offer slot machines now? Would the lottery take a hit? Then there are the social impacts of gambling addiction and crimes, such as prostitution and loan-sharking, associated with casinos….
Read the full editorial online here.
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