The Florida Panthers Hockey Team Linked to a Destination Casino?

Casino Watch Focus has been long reporting on the battle to expand gambling in Florida to that of full-scale, Las Vegas destination casinos.  Genting group has been the most active over the past few years in attempting to set the stage for destination gambling. Those efforts have been fought off by various groups looking to prevent the expansion of gambling in hopes of keeping Florida a family-friendly destination.  A new group has presented a proposal to the Senate Committee on Gambling that attempts to link a casino with one of Florida’s pro hockey teams. The Tampa Bay Times explains:

The Florida Panthers hockey team could be the first major sports team linked to a destination casino if legislators permit an expansion of gambling, proponents said Monday after a meeting of the Senate Committee on Gaming.

Sunrise Sports & Entertainment is partnering with Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corporation on its proposal for a hotel, spa and casino with 50,000 square feet for meeting space on the land adjacent to the BB & T Center in the city of Sunrise. Broward County owns the land.

The BB & T Center, which hosts concerts and special events as well as hockey games, is across the road from Sawgrass Mills, considered Florida’s second-largest tourist destination with more than 350 outlet stores, and near the Sawgrass Expressway and other roads, factors that make it a prime location for the casino/hotel resort, said Michael Yormark, president and CEO of Sunrise Sports & Entertainment and the Florida Panthers NHL hockey team.    

The Senate Committee will meet again on January 13th and its still unsure if the issue will be decided in the legislature.  The Tampa Bay times continues:

Asked about the odds of passing comprehensive gambling legislation this year, Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, chairman of the Senate Committee on Gaming, said the chances are “50-50.”

“We have to find out what it is we want to do, what it is we believe is in the best interest of the state of Florida before we can go any further,” he said. “That’s what the next step is. We’re preparing to cross the starting line.”

He said there were numerous issues from dog racing to destination casino resorts to the possibility of a gaming commission. “If you take all the pieces of the puzzle, they don’t snap together that easily.” Richter said he couldn’t comment on Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford’s call for a state constitutional amendment to allow voters to decide future changes to gaming in the state.

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