Study: Casinos could harm Florida Tourism

While Spectrum Gaming’s first report makes light of the economic downsides of casino cannibalization and states that social costs will be covered in a future report, it acknowledges the very real risk that high stakes casino gambling would represent to Florida’s world-renowned family-friendly tourism economy.

From the Tampa Bay Times:

Gaming report candidly observes Florida tourism could be harmed by more gambling

Mary Ellen Klas
The Miami Herald
July 2, 2013

Florida has one of the most competitive gambling markets in the nation with a parimutuel industry that “resembles a circular firing squad,” a regulatory environment that is a “mess,” and any expansion of gambling — such as destination resorts — will result in more expansion because “the industry rarely shrinks.”

Those are the candid first conclusions of the report released late Monday to the Florida Legislatute by  Spectrum Gaming Group as lawmakers attempt to embark on an ambitious plan of rewriting the state’s gambling laws and deciding how much expansion to allow. But what may be the starkest conclusion of all is the notion that the New Jersey gambling consultants suggest that the state may want to stay away from casinos or it will harm the state and Orlando’s tourist brand.

“The brand equity of Orlando has benefits for the entire state” and “expanded gambling may fundamentally change the state of Florida as a place to live and visit,” write the authors in the first part of the two-part report. “Rather than benefitting the state, expanded gambling (especially casinos) could make Florida a less-attractive tourist destination.”

Legislators paid Spectrum $388,000 to assess Florida’s gambling market.  Download FL_Gambling_Impact_Study_Part1A (PDF) Among the other findings:

Florida’s parimutuels xxx but those numbers are wildly understated because Florida’s Division of Parimutuel Wagering “does not collect data on out-of-state generated handle, which is the single largest component of handle.”

Gambling expansion is headed to the Panhandle. The Poarch Band of Creek Indians, based in Atmore, AL, has land in Escambia County and now operates the Gretna racetrack which is operating controversial flag drop races. The tribe “has options to own, or agreements to control 10 pari-mutuel permits along the Interstate 10 corridor between Pensacola and Jacksonville.

Read the rest of the article online here.

To read the report, click here.

Contact:  John Sowinski
Phone:  407-608-5930