Casino interests have little to offer a state focused on family tourism

Those who believe casinos would be good for our economy need to take a closer look at Nevada. Nevada leads America in unemployment, with a jobless rate that is 30 percent higher than Florida’s. It leads America in foreclosures, with a foreclosure rate nearly 400 percent that of Florida’s. It leads America in personal bankruptcy. Nevada’s addiction to gambling also takes its toll in terms of social costs. It is a leader in per-capita spending for law enforcement and has the highest divorce rate in America.

Casino interests have little to offer a state focused on family tourism


Today throughout Florida, parents are helping their kids with homework. High school students are preparing for the SAT and applying to colleges. Citizens are applying for jobs that they hope and pray they will get.

We owe these Floridians a strategy to build a robust and diverse economy. In doing so, we could learn from the words of FedEx founder and CEO Fred Smith, who says, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Unfortunately, some politicians in Tallahassee have set their sights lower — much lower, so the main thing they will be discussing during the upcoming legislative session in Tallahassee is not luring new jobs in aerospace, computer simulation, life sciences, knowledge-based industries or manufacturing. Instead, the main thing they’ll be talking about is high-stakes casino gambling.

The Florida Legislature is considering a bill that provides for a historic expansion of gambling in Florida. In fact, a Malaysian gambling conglomerate has hired 23 lobbyists to push their idea of building the biggest casino in the history of the world here in Florida. It would be almost twice the size of what is today the world’s largest casino, and would be as big as the casinos in the Mirage, the Wynn, the Bellagio, the Venetian, the MGM Grand and Caesar’s Palace combined. And the bill would allow up to three such “destination casinos” to be built (until the Legislature adds more).

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