Casinos to Attract Majority of Current Tourist Dollars Wherever They Open

Two-thirds to three-quarters of those expected to visit mega-casinos being proposed for Southeast Florida will likely have diverted their time — and their money — from other destinations in the region, state economists projected Friday afternoon.

Casinos to Attract Majority of Current Tourist Dollars Wherever They Open

By: Jim Turner | Posted: December 3, 2011 3:55 AM
Sunshine State News

Two-thirds to three-quarters of those expected to visit mega-casinos being proposed for Southeast Florida will likely have diverted their time — and their money — from other destinations in the region, state economists projected Friday afternoon.

That is, if the casinos are limited to just Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

The state’s Revenue Estimating Conference, which has yet to settle on the potential economic impact of the gaming bill, projected that the three mega-casinos could attract 823,150 to 1.65 million new visitors a year to the state.

At the same time, 4.4 million to 10.6 million people who now regularly visit the Sunshine State could be expected to redirect their travel plans — and money — to include the gambling venues.

The projections would appear to give some credence to arguments that have been made by the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Disney, which lead the organized opposition to the destination resort bills — HB 487 and SB 710 — filed by Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale.

The business groups claim the casinos would cut into the family-friendly image of the state and divert tourist dollars from existing businesses rather than attract more people to Florida.

The conference members hope to be able to set a revenue projection when they meet again next Friday.

“We’re getting close to getting numbers we can agree to,” said Amy Baker, the state’s chief economist.

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