State Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, yesterday filed an already debated gaming bill that allows casino gambling resorts and creates a government-managed Department of Gaming Control.
The Bogdanoff/Fresen bill would, according to The Miami Herald, allow three “full Las Vegas-style games” in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. The Herald adds that “casinos would pay 10 percent tax on net revenues,” “less than the 35 percent tax rate now imposed on the revenues of the state’s eight pari-mutuels with slot machine licenses in South Florida.”
The South Florida Sun Sentinel indicates that Las Vegas Sands and the Malaysia-based Genting Group are the companies most interested in building casino resorts in South Florida, but other business groups involved in gaming and resorts have also shown interest.
The Sun Sentinel adds
Social conservatives, as well as business and tourism groups, are opposed. South Florida pari-mutuels want their “racino” slot machines to be taxed less if casinos are allowed. And the Seminole Tribe will fight to maintain its current casino monopoly.
Supporters of the proposed casinos are also investing in lobbysits. The Sun Sentinel adds that Genting “has already spent more than $300 million for bayfront property in downtown Miami and so far this year has given $185,000 to the state Republican Party.”
According to the Sentinel, casino hotels have hired 43 lobbyists, racetracks have hired 76 lobbyists and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, “whose casinos now are the only facilities in Florida offering blackjack, has six lobbyists.” The Florida Chamber of Commerce has 24 lobbyists and Disney World — opponents of the bill — have 24 and 21 lobbyists respectively.
With unemployment at 10.6 percent in Florida, job creation is an issue casino supporters highlight. “Sands has said it could create 8,000 to 16,000 direct jobs and 20,000 indirect jobs,” according to the Sun Sentinel. “Genting has estimated its property could create 100,000 jobs. However, groups like the Florida Chamber argue that casinos could kill local businesses that operate near them — and even depress Central Florida tourist venues.”
Sunshine State News reports that ”a State Gaming Commission and a Department of Gaming Control would create a sprawling new bureaucracy to oversee what promoters hope to parlay into a multibillion-dollar industry.”
According to the website, ”though the bill does not provide a cost estimate to taxpayers, or designate the number of new state employees required to staff it,” John Sowinski, head of the No Casinos Inc., of Orlando “said the regulatory apparatus won’t come cheap.”