Gambling on Fla. lawmakers' agenda

Lawmakers to begin asking questions about future of gambling in Florida


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida lawmakers will begin asking questions Monday about the future of gambling in the state. There are plans for mega casinos in South Florida, and the compact with the Seminole Indians is up for review.

The Genting Corporation already bought land from a mega casino in Miami. Las Vegas Sands wants to be part of what could a gambling resort on Miami Beach.

Sands has already hired seven lobbyists. One of them is Nick Iarossi.

"We're not looking to turn Miami, or South Florida or Florida in general into Las Vegas," said Iarossi. "What we are interested in doing is bringing the integrated resort model to drive that tourism economy."

Add to the mix that the Seminole Compact allowing slots and card games on seven reservations is up in 2015. Most dog and horse tracks want slots of their own as well.

On the other side, No Casino's Inc. distributed a 36-page report on Wednesday. It offers dozens of reasons of why casinos are bad. Among them, slots nationwide have grown by a factor of five over 40 decades. In Atlantic City the number of restaurants have dropped by almost half since gambling began there.

The Florida Chamber helped kill a gambling expansion in 2012.

"Gambling just isn't consistent with Florida's international brand," said David Hart of the Florida Chamber. "We are known far and wide as a family friendly destination."

As 2014 is an election year, Gov. Rick Scott has so far sidestepped the issue, saying only that he doesn't want the state to rely on gambling to fund its budget.

Gambling cash is already fueling re-election campaigns. A $400,000 study commissioned by the state is due Oct. 1.