Casino bill is the wrong bet

As gambling opponents such as No Casinos and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association argue, casinos would cannibalize existing hotels and restaurants rather than bring in new jobs. They claim that 40 percent of Atlantic City’s restaurants and one-third of its retail outlets closed after casinos arrived. Marketing Florida as a gambling mecca also would tarnish the state’s “brand” as a family-friendly destination where the lures are beaches and theme parks. Rather than bet on more gambling to diversify the state’s economy, Florida should continue its push for biotech and other “knowledge industry” jobs.

Casino bill is the wrong bet

By The Palm Beach Post
Posted: 7:53 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, 2011

Backers of the bill to allow “destination resort” casinos claim that allowing more gambling in Florida would mean less gambling in Florida.

No, it won’t. Common sense says it won’t. History definitely says it won’t. From the lottery, which voters approved in 1986, to slots at Miami-Dade and Broward parimutuels (“racinos”), which voters approved in 2004, every gambling expansion in Florida has meant, well, expansion.

Allow three “destination resort” casinos, and companies will seek a fourth and fifth. Parimutuels will demand more new games beyond poker and slots. The Seminoles will jazz up the tribe’s offerings. The lottery will respond with even more drawings and addictive scratch-offs.

But, the claim goes, Vegas-style casinos would make the state rich. That wouldn’t happen, either. The lottery and “racinos” were touted as saviours of education. First, the Legislature moved general revenue dollars out of education as quickly as lottery dollars began flowing in 23 years ago. The $500 million a year promised from “racino” slots has produced only about $120 million. Here is more proof of the double-dealing of gambling: The state collects $1.75 million each year from parimutuels to help addicted gamblers but diverts most of it into the general fund.

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