BY BUDDY NEVINS
Some issues never go away, especially in Tallahassee where debating them endlessly results in beaucoup campaign contributions.
Gambling is on the agenda again in the Legislature, just like it has been off-and-on for decades.
The fight will be between the pari-mutuels and hotel interests.
There is also a fight brewing between various groups of hotel owners, who each want permission for casinos but don’t particularly want the competition from anybody else. The Florida Clarion website outlines one of these deals today.
The idea being kicked around is to create destination resorts, similar to the Seminole’s Hard Rock, in counties across the state. Each county would hold a referendum to see if residents want to allow gambling.
One proposal floated slaps a $5-$10 million upfront non-refundable application fee on any potential casino operator. There would be no guarantee of approval for that money.
That would buy a lot of school books!
The spinoff would be tens of thousands of jobs and new customers for small businesses. If you don’t believe gambling creates economic activity, just visit the Hard Rock outside of Hollywood. It is the most happening place in South Florida.
Left behind will be the pari-mutuels. Their experiment in gambling is largely viewed as a failure in Tallahassee. The pari-mutual racinos are second-rate compared to the Seminoles’ first class resorts.
Key legislators see non-Indian owned casinos like the Hard Rock springing up across Florida.
The exclusive multi-million dollar deal with the Seminoles might have to be tanked. But all these new casinos will be paying taxes.unlike the Seminoles.
Public employees and their beef with Gov. Rick Scott is getting all the attention. It will probably end up the most public fight of the Legislative session starting next month.
Nobody really makes money from the pension issue. The real money and the deal that $5,000 suits are whispering about in the Capitol stairwells are casinos.
The jockeying has already begun for pieces of the biggest prize of all — expanded casinos in Florida.