It was encouraging to read that Bradenton's own Bill Galvano will be the Florida Senate's point man during the upcoming legislative session on the issue of potentially expanding gambling in our state ("State Sen. Bill Galvano of Bradenton, other legislators hold the cards in new casino deal with Seminoles," Jan. 12).
As a responsible public servant and dedicated family man, Sen. Galvano no doubt understands that opening Florida's doors to more gambling is a slippery slope. Approving expansion of tribal casino gambling will inevitably lead to pressure from pari-mutuel operators and, ultimately, the outside gambling conglomerates that have been lobbying the Florida Legislature for years to allow the construction of giant casinos, euphemistically called "destination resorts," in South Florida.
The gambling industry has an insatiable appetite for growth, and as a renowned tourist destination Florida has long been a coveted target for expansion. History here and in numerous other states in the U.S. has shown that once gambling gains a foothold, it will continue to spread as long and as far as it can.
Anyone who believes it won't has not been following the grim news from Atlantic City, where over-saturation of casinos there and the influx of gambling operations in neighboring states led to the closings of four casinos last year, devastating the local economy and putting thousands out of work.
Florida's economy is strong and growing. Tourism is hitting record levels. We are known around the world as a family-friendly destination. Gambling, on the other hand, breeds crime, addiction, and financial hardship. Is that something we really want our state to be known for?
Let's hope, with Sen. Galvano's leadership, that our elected officials in Tallahassee will have the wisdom to say no.
Linda Corrado Cinque