Speaker of the House Will Weatherford is working on a constitutional amendment on statewide gaming expansion, Union Gaming reports. The bill could allow voters to make the big decision in 2014; to pass, the plan would require a 60 percent majority.
Last year, the state commissioned Spectrum Gaming of New Jersey to develop a comprehensive study on the impact of gambling in the state, from the lottery and parimutuels to casinos, internet cafés and tribal compacts. The state legislature is expected to review the issues in the 2014 legislative session.
If voters go for expanded gaming, there is no shortage of developers waiting to bring more casinos to the Sunshine State. For several years Genting, the Malaysian casino giant, has been acquiring real estate in Miami in hopes of building a destination resort there. Las Vegas Sands has also expressed interest in moving into southern Florida.
According to the Panama City News
Herald, 63 percent of likely Florida voters support expanding gambling by adding a limited number of resort casinos,?but that survey was commissioned and funded by Las Vegas Sands Corp. The poll said 35 percent of respondents are opposed to new gaming and 2 percent are unsure.
But there are also many arguments against new casinos, along with powerful opposition. The Disney Company and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association are squarely against casinos, saying they would taint the state’s family-friendly image.
The current leadership of both the state House and Senate are “publicly” against a large-scale gaming expansion, Union Gaming wrote. And then there is the Seminole tribe, whose multimillion-dollar revenue-sharing pacts with the state would be affected by the introduction of new casinos. The Seminole money is a sure thing, and the state may ultimately be loath to let it go.