Are resort casinos a bad bet for Florida?

November 2, 2013 

Who's to benefit from the expansion of gambling in Florida? Should one of the family-friendly vacation capitals of the world legalize resort casinos and let current venues offer slot machines and other games?

Unless you're a world-class poker player or incredibly lucky at craps, roulette and slots, you won't be a winner. But lawmakers stand to benefit -- by pocketing political donations from both powerful gambling interests and their opponents.

The state of Florida does not stand to rake in a revenue windfall as gambling proponents boast. A new study indicates that brand new resort casinos and slot machines at dog tracks and jai alai frontons would only have a "minimal economic" impact on the state. So why pollute Florida with more gambling?

The new jobs are tempting, for sure. As is the increase in tourism to destination casinos in places like Miami.

The study minimizes the social costs and even notes that Floridians would constitute 93 percent of casino revenues, downplaying the tourism impact.

This new $400,000 study (taxpayer money authorized by the Legislature) contradicts the 2011 report issued by the same consulting firm, Spectrum Gaming Group. Legislators doubt the credibility of the new report.

Where do you stand on the expansion of gambling? Let us know.

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