Spectrum Gaming Sideshow: A Roll-Out For Big Casinos?

Yes, ladies and gentlemen!  Step right up! For your entertainment, behold a report on Florida gambling from Spectrum Gaming Group! Objective? Not so much! You’ve seen the bearded lady! You’ve witnessed a man sawed in half! Now guess what a firm that’s worked with virtually every type of gambling interest will say about casinos! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, step right up!

Alas, suspense is not part of this show. Spectrum, hired by Genting Casinos, gave away the answer in 2011. Instead of guessing weight, Spectrum foresaw that three more casinos in South Florida would funnel $4.3 billion to $6 billion annually to the state.

That answer offered Florida the equivalent of a free carnival ride, but the Legislature hopped on Spectrum’s Tilt A Whirl and paid $400,000 for a two-part report on gambling’s effects here when Spectrum has:

  1. Been called “the roll-out team for casino expansion,” with “phony” job and revenue numbers, according to Les Bernal, Executive Director of Stop Predatory Gambling, a national opposition group to government-sponsored gambling.
  2. “Repeatedly been tapped by the same companies that want to expand Florida’s gambling options to present reports to lawmakers in the past,” the Tampa Bay Times noted.

The Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell noted, “The company … hired to do the study specializes in promoting big-time gambling and casinos. Spectrum Gaming Group (note the key word there in the middle) actually sponsors the annual Florida Gaming Congress. Gee, I wonder what it will find. This would be like contracting Anheuser-Busch to do a study on whether drinking beer is OK.”

Thirsting for a traditional old-timey carnival sideshow or something like it? Expect no surprises when Spectrum issues its report.

Carnivals can be fun, but there’s always a lingering suspicion: Could the games be rigged?