On Tuesday a bill which lets up to five casinos and destination resorts open up in Florida at last passed the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee; however the move, which is being called a massive expansion of gambling by its opponents, still appears very unlikely to be adopted anytime soon. According to its supporters, the bill which passed on a 4-2 vote; will help in substantially reinvigorating the tourism market of the state and will also add over 10,000 jobs to the workforce of Florida. The bill will warrant casinos to start up in all the five regions which have been created to house these facilities.
A lobbyist for Las Vegas Sands, Nick Larossi, expressed his hope that Florida will again become one of the biggest convention based markets in the world. The bill has been amended on numerous occasions to make it more palatable and also in efforts to rally support for it. The amendments made in the bill were aimed at protecting the thoroughbred industry from any adverse impact from the casinos, providing similar tax rates and games as the newer facilities to the pan-mutuels with slot machines and to allow all counties which haven’t yet passed a referendum to allow slots to pass it before a casino is opened in their region.
Sen. Oscar Braynron, the bill’s sponsor, has conceded on Tuesday that a previous measure to authorize gambling which was passed by the Legislature might be ended by this bill. He said to the committee that as soon as the bill came into play, the Seminole gaming compact would be null and void. However, he also said that the concerns about that can be overhyped as the first year term of that compact will very likely end before the new facilities open and the tribe’s Tampa facility will still provide revenue to the state if a destination resort was opened up only in Miami-Dade. This has made some of the supporters of the bill uneasy, especially when some of the restrictions imposed on the casinos and the revenues of the state under the bill are taken into consideration.