Keep Florida Summers Alive- Don’t Bet on Gambling

Local businesses open and filled with customers, children and families enjoying white sand beaches, full hotel rooms- that’s a good summer vacation in Destin. In fact, for many of Florida’s coastal towns that rely on visitors and tourism, that’s a good year. According to Visit Florida, more than 97 million visitors came to our state last year. For Florida, that number signifies jobs, growth and competitiveness, and comes from the multi-faceted efforts of local communities and chambers of commerce, and organizations like the Florida Chamber, Enterprise Florida and VISIT FLORIDA.

But our state hasn’t just garnered attention from visitors around the world- it has also earned a bulls-eye from mega Las Vegas-style casinos seeking to expand into our state.

In Destin, we want to keep Florida summers alive. That’s why we join the Florida Chamber in opposing Las Vegas- style casinos.

Las Vegas-style mega casinos promised once thriving coastal communities a boost to their economies and made them an offer they couldn’t refuse. But facts are, as we know, stubborn things. A look at the blighted economy of Atlantic City provides all the insight we need as to why expanding Las Vegas-style casinos in Florida is a bad bet- thousands of jobs lost, millions lost in revenue, countless casinos closing. And in the wake of this downfall? A coastal town that once treasured their summers.

On November 28, 2011, our board of directors passed a resolution opposing the expansion of gambling in Florida.  We stand by that position today.  In November 2013, I was proud to stand before Senate President Don Gaetz and his committee on gaming to express our chamber’s concerns about and opposition to the expansion of gambling in our great state.

We cannot let Florida go the way of Atlantic City. We hope you will join us and the Florida Chamber in opposing the expansion of Las Vegas-style gambling.

 

Written by Shane A. Moody, CCE, FCCP, President & CEO, Destin Area Chamber of Commerce

Expansion of Casino Gambling Draws Dire Warnings, Praise

By Scott Powers, Orlando Sentinel

If Florida increases its bet on gambling, the wager will ride on whether new casinos could become economic engines as in Baltimore, or economic vacuums as in Atlantic City.

That was the central argument in a debate over gambling during a Florida Forward forum sponsored in downtown Orlando on Tuesday by the Orlando Sentinel.

Atlantic City’s economic demise was caused by decades of Democrat rule and astronomical taxes. The casinos just delayed it a few decades.

Opponents, notably No Casinos Inc. President John Sowinski, argued that many new casinos have sucked vitality out of communities by drawing dollars away from existing restaurants, hotels and attractions. And he held up Atlantic City’s economic demise, with recent widespread casino failures, as a frightening cautionary tale.

Supporters, notably Geoff Freeman, president of the American Gaming Association, argued that many new casinos that are more wisely planned and regulated, as in Baltimore and Ohio, have been boons to their cities’ economies and could serve as role models for any Florida expansion.

The casino issue is reemerging because Florida’s five-year compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida expires this summer. It allows the tribe lucrative, exclusive rights for its seven tribal-land casinos, in exchange for more than $130 million in annual fees.

A renegotiated contract could open up what other casino operators want — expansion of competition.

Two companies, Las Vegas Sands Corp. and the Genting Group of Malaysia, have publicly pushed for Florida to allow more casinos in South Florida.

“Here’s the bottom line,” said opponent Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, “Florida doesn’t need the casino industry. The casino industry … needs Florida.”

There also are eight pari-mutuel betting tracks, all in South Florida, that now operate limited-game casinos and seek more.

“We just want to be on a level playing field,” said Isadore Havernick, vice president of the Magic City Casino in Miami.