Florida passes gambling compact with Seminole Indians despite major opposition

Casino Watch Focus has been reporting on the dealings between the Florida Legislature and the Seminole Indians regarding a gambling compact.  After Gov. Crist’s last deal was voted down in committee, Florida has been hard at work to find an agreement including entertaining ideas of full scale Vegas Style gambling. Now it appears that a new compact has been agreed to and will be ratified into Florida Law, despite much opposition.  An online Tampa source reports:

Over the objection of Christian groups and warnings that this will be the death knell to the parimutuel industry, the House’s Select Committee on Seminole Indian Compact Review passed the bill to ratify the gambling deal that will guarantee the state $1 billion in gambling revenues from the Seminole Tribe for the next five years. The vote: 15-3.

“Those of your who perceive this as an entree to competition are missing the point,” he said. “The competition is there. What is the alternative?”

But Bill Bunckley, of the Florida Baptist Convention, disagreed and called it a major expansion. “If we weren’t expanding gambling, there wouldn’t be additional dollars on the table to come to the state of Florida.”

Ken Plante, lobbyist for Tampa Bay Downs, called it “The biggest expansion of gambling in this state without a vote of the people. It will probably put parimutuels out of business in this state.”

Nathan Dun of Florida Family Action also made statements that outlined exactly how dangerous this compact would be for the families and how the agreement violates the principles of government that the Florida Legislature abides by.  Dunn testified:

This is a pro-family issue, because at the core, families are affected when significant enough percentages of our citizens become addicted to gambling, play until they go bankrupt and pursues criminal activity to fund their addictive habit.  I also wanted to point out that with every piece of legislation that comes through this body, members are encouraged to evaluate the proposed legislation in light of eight guiding principles of the House of Representatives.

One of those principles is to “Balance the state budget.”

I suggest to you that it is irresponsible to consider balancing our state’s budget by depending upon gambling revenue. It is morally wrong to balance the state budget on the backs of the most financially vulnerable in our state, especially our elderly citizens. Dr. Earl Grinols, who appeared before this committee, pointed out from his research that for every dollar of revenue you get from increased gambling, $3 must eventually be spent on increased expenses related to crime and social services. By ignoring this fact, it is fiscally irresponsible to vote for this bill in violation of your own principle.

To read the complete statement, please visit Florida Family Action here and for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION.

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