Gambling in Florida is under the spotlight

Gambling in FloridaOne US state is waking up to the prospect of legalizing gambling. Gambling in Florida has been restricted because politicians do not want to see the Sunshine State invaded by Las Vegas style casinos.

In many respects Florida would be ideal for casinos because it is already a prominent holiday destination. History has shown that holiday destinations make great locations for casinos.

However, Florida has been a family brand so there is opposition to the idea of introducing casinos. This year, state politicians will have to decide on the future of tourism marketing funds and gambling expansion.

State legislature for gambling in Florida is Republican controlled and Senator Bill Galvano is leading the drive by sponsoring a major gambling bill this year. The 60 day parliamentary session has just opened.

The knives are drawn because the Republicans are advancing a proposal which would advance gambling far beyond its current locations. The House Republicans are backing a plan to freeze gambling venues and locations as they now exist.

Gambling is supposed to be illegal in Florida but is tolerated in out-of-the-way locations known to the locals and savvy tourists. Tribal casinos are permitted under the US Constitution and the law is already being flaunted. Several casinos are already run across the state. Hard Rock Hotels already runs one of them so the whole legal aspect is an anomaly.

The Arguments for Gambling

The main argument for gambling in the State is to put upmarket casinos in the prime tourist areas where the tourists can benefit from them . Florida receives 100 million visitors a year and many see it as a wasted opportunity not to benefit from additional revenue. Some of the tourism stakeholders argue that theme park revenue would be adversely affected. Others argue against gambling on moral and ethical grounds.

The dilemma seems to be whether to go for all or nothing. Perhaps the hard-headed politicians need to seek a compromise. It does seem wrong to exclude it in a state that benefits so much from tourism. Exclusion could mean that Florida gets left behind. Finally, perhaps the politicians should be concerned at the prospect of more theme parks opening in Nevada. It could happen and they would probably be successful.

Update: August 14th 2017- Disney has doubled its donation to the committee backing the amendment ‘Voters in Charge’ which is opposing casino expansion in Florida. They have now donated $1 million dollars to the cause.

Read more about US Gambling trends.

Source: Gary Fineout – Associated Press.

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