OK, this gambling stuff is heating up. NoCasinos.org sent out a press release announcing its "statesmen's council" of supporters. Best for Florida, sponsored by Associated Industries of Florida, spelled out its thoughts supporting gambling expansion in Florida. Below are their press releases.
I'm putting this up because of the names involved, although to me, it's one step off of being any kind of a hard news story. None of those listed has a vote in this year's legislature, and neither release is a departure from what we'd expect. But, heck, some of you folks like to read it...
Florida has a strong bi-partisan tradition of opposing the legalization of casino-style gambling. Floridians have fought the battle against Las Vegas-style casinos, and we have won each time. In 1978, 1986 and 1994 Florida voters rejected high stakes casino gambling. Over the years, an important part of the No Casinos effort has been enlisting the support of those who have led our state to show their concern about this issue, and their opposition to the expansion of gambling.
It’s a cause that has united Democrats, Republicans and Independents since the 1970s. So in recognition of state leaders who opposed and continue to oppose the legalization of Las Vegas style casinos in Florida, we’re launching the No Casinos Statesmen’s Council to represent the unified, bipartisan view that expanded casino gambling will be harmful to Florida.
We also welcome other current and former statewide office holders to join this effort, and plan to continue to add to the ranks of the Council throughout 2014.
Special thanks to those who have already joined the No Casinos Statesmen’s Council, including:
Senator Bill Nelson
Senator Bob Graham
Governor Jeb Bush
Governor Wayne Mixon
Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam
Attorney General Pam Bondi
CFO Jeff Atwater
CFO Tom Gallagher
Speaker James Harold Thompson
Speaker Larry Cretul
Speaker Dean Cannon
From Best for Florida
Best for Florida today responded to naysayers opposed to a badly needed overhaul of Florida’s patchwork gaming policy – reforms that would boost Florida’s economy and stop the “gaming creep” free-for-all that has plagued the state.
“When people say ‘no casinos,’ they are really saying ‘more gambling’ as they double down on the status quo. They are supporting the preservation of a broken policy that has allowed the expansion of gambling across the state, often without legislative approval,” said AIF President and CEO Tom Feeney. “Crafty attorneys have played games with the system and have exploited loopholes in Florida’s hodgepodge policy to bring even more gambling into our state. It’s time for Florida’s leaders to step up and fix the broken system and do it in a way that creates jobs and promotes the convention and trade show economy in South Florida with the establishment of Integrated Resorts.”
For the past several decades, gaming has steadily expanded in Florida growing from bingo halls offering nightly prizes totaling as much as $60,000 to large-scale casinos and Internet Sweepstakes Cafes. Right now, the number of slot machines in South Florida surpasses the number of slot machines on the core of the Las Vegas Strip and much of this expansion has happened without legislative approval.
Through this unregulated “gaming creep,” Florida has grown to become the fourth largest gaming state in the country. It is hard to buy the ‘golden oldie’ arguments from No Casinos and other opponents that they have fought Las Vegas-style casinos and “have won” every time when the state offers more types of gaming than even Las Vegas with slot machines and tribal casinos featuring Las Vegas-style gaming – including one of the largest casinos in the United States in Tampa. It is important to remember that many of the members of No Casinos’ so-called ‘Statesmen’s Council’ either are or have been registered lobbyists for No Casinos or other gaming opponents. When this is understood, it is not surprising organized opponents choose to conveniently ignore these facts about gaming in Florida.
Proponents for gaming reform agree that common-sense regulation of gaming would breathe life into South Florida’s stagnant and stale convention and tradeshow business and bring a welcomed economic engine to the state’s tourism industry.
This year, Florida has the opportunity to address the issue of gaming that has needed attention for decades and create a comprehensive structure that attracts visitors to the state and guarantees that the gaming industry operates in a regulatory system that promotes fairness and growth.
“It is time for smart gaming reforms that promote job creation and establish common sense gaming laws,” added Brewster Bevis, AIF Senior Vice President for State and Federal Affairs. “We need to restore the Legislature to its proper role as deciders of the state’s gaming policies and ensure that we don’t leave room for clever lawyering and the exploitation of piece-mail regulations.”