Casino Watch Focus reported that the Florida legislature cut $400,000 from programs designed to help those with compulsive gambling issues, while also approving a new $400,000 gambling study. The seeming intent of the study was to focus on the financial gains of new destination casinos, while ignoring the devastation and negative consequences of gambling. Immediately following the approval of the budget, groups started asking Governor Scott to veto the budget. One online source explained how one sided the study would be:
Gov. Rick Scott should reject a $400,000 gambling study in the 2011-2012 state budget and restore funding cuts to programs that help those harmed by gambling, Florida Baptist Convention legislative consultant Bill Bunkley urged in a May 19 letter. “In this critical and tight budgetary year when many fellow Floridians are unemployed and struggling to provide some of the basics of life, it is not the time to promote and subsidize the rich, deep-pocketed interests of the large-scale, Las Vegas casino enterprises or the horse racing industry,” Bunkley wrote. The study will not be “balanced,” he added, because it fails to require exploration of the “huge social costs the state will without a doubt” incur due to expanded gambling. If there is to be a potentially pro-gambling study, it should be underwritten by the gambling industry, not taxpayers, Bunkley said.
As the Sun Sentinel explains, The Florida Baptist Convention represents almost 3,000 churches and has more than 1 million members. They represent a fairly strong republican voting base that the Governor couldn’t easily ignore. As a result, an online Tampa news source is reporting that Gov Scott has vetoed the study. As has become common on the gambling issue since his election, the Governor issued a statement that seeks political balance, not a firm position:
“I am vetoing $400,000 for a gambling study. While I encourage the Legislature to make a comprehensive review of additional gaming, I believe it is important to have a full consideration of the positive economic impact, the costs that may result from this policy, and the impact on current gaming in our state. However, such a study at this time is an expense Florida taxpayers should not incur.”
It is unclear as to the possibility of refunding the $400,000 cut from Compulsive Gambling Programs. Keep checking for updated and for more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH, & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION