John Sowinski: ‘Gaming’ bills potentially devastating to existing businesses; don’t let Florida gamble on its future

One issue two views: casino gambling What do you think of proposals for destination resorts? They’re devastating: Casinos will cannibalize existing state businesses

John Sowinski: ‘Gaming’ bills potentially devastating to existing businesses; don’t let Florida gamble on its future

Posted January 12, 2012 at 4 a.m
TCPalm

You can almost set your clock by it.

Whenever we are in a down economy, casino gambling promoters come out with a new plan to expand legalized gambling in Florida. This time they’re calling it “destination casinos” and they want our legislators to pass a bill that would legalize full-scale casino gambling.

A Malaysian gambling conglomerate has hired 25 lobbyists to push the idea of building some of the world’s biggest casinos here in Florida. The casino they have planned alone is so big it could house four to six of the largest casinos in Las Vegas.

There will be a lot of discussion on this subject during legislative session that began this week, so it is important for Floridians to know a few things that will provide context to what they will be reading and hearing.

First, when casino interests say “gaming,” they really mean “gambling.” Gaming is what our kids do with their Wii or Xbox. Gambling is when you wager money.

Second, when they say it will create jobs and tax revenue, what they aren’t telling you is that most of these jobs and taxes are at the expense of jobs and tax revenues that already exist in our economy. That’s because gambling is a predatory industry, and in already-developed business environments, it primarily cannibalizes economic activity from existing businesses. That’s why 40 percent of Atlantic City’s restaurants closed and one-third of their retail establishments went out of business when casinos opened there.

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