Megacasinos are a very bad bet for Florida

With the economy on the mend, Florida can be counted on to create high-wage jobs in attractive and diversified industries without the risks of harm from turning parts of the state into gambling meccas even larger than those in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Florida can do better.

Megacasinos are a very bad bet for Florida

The state of Florida, already a partner and big-time promoter of gambling enterprises, is being urged to go all in with megacasinos larger than anything in Las Vegas.

In a state that has rejected expanded gambling in three statewide referendums since 1978, casino advocates are taking advantage of a rugged economy to tout gambling as a job creator, a major new tourist lure and tax revenue generator.

But in fact, this would be a very bad bet. Clearly, the odds are that three megacasinos proposed for South Florida would be harmful to all of Florida and likely would fail to deliver on their big promises.

Essentially, the Genting Group of Malaysia and the Las Vegas Sands Group are lobbying for the right to invest $2 billion in each casino, which would then return a 10 percent tax on net gambling revenue.

With promises to create up to 100,000 new jobs, those firms and their allies have invested millions in political contributions aimed at ensuring passage in the Legislature.

The proposal faces tough going, but the big money and flocks of lobbyists have persuaded more than a few legislators to roll the dice on Florida’s future.

Gov. Rick Scott, perhaps in deference to his jobs agenda, has been reluctant to commit to either side so far.

Our objections are not based on moral grounds; those who want to gamble should be allowed to do so.

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