Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to expand gambling in Florida. The recent video released by No Casinos provided a great timeline of how gambling has slowly but surely continued to expand in Florida in ways the voting public usually never intended. As the legislature examines a new round of gambling expansion ideas this upcoming legislative session, it’s important to remember the history that gambling plays not only locally, but all across the country. One local group has done just that. Paul Sago, executive director of No Casinos, has drawn a parallel between the gambling plight of Atlantic City and the resent efforts to expand gambling in Florida. The article can be found online with Sunshine State News:
The plight of Atlantic City shows some glaring truths that Floridians need to be aware of, so that we don’t make the same mistakes. Here are No Casinos’ three main reasons why Floridians should care.
*1. It proves that gambling doesn’t help the local economy.*
The gambling industry loves to spin the fable that casinos are an economic panacea for communities that are struggling financially. The industry promises that gambling will generate new revenue for local and state government. The truth is, money spent in a casino is simply money not spent in another sector of the economy. After gambling has gained a
foothold, local businesses surrounding a casino struggle to stay open. A case in point: After casinos were legalized in Atlantic City, 40 percent of restaurants and one-third of the retail establishments there went out of business. In a well-developed economy like Florida’s, gains in the casino gambling industry will come at the expense of existing jobs and businesses.
*2. It proves that oversaturation is real and could be headed to Florida.*
The expansion of casinos and other venues has resulted in oversaturation of gambling in many regions of the U.S. It’s widely understood that Atlantic City’s problems were caused by a glut of casinos there and competition from new gambling facilities in neighboring states. In fact, according to an Aug. 10, 2014, New York Times article, “more than half the population in the Northeast now live within 25 miles of a casino featuring video lottery, table games or slot machines.”
There are only so many gamblers for casinos to lure, and expanding casino gambling locations causes casinos to cannibalize themselves. Currently, Miami-Dade and Broward counties are home to eight pari-mutuel facilities authorized to have slot machines. There are also seven Indian tribal facilities in Florida featuring gambling options — six in Miami-Dade and Broward counties and one in Tampa.
Now, the gambling industry is seeking approval to build mega-casinos in South Florida, and existing gambling operators in the state want more, too. It never stops.
*3. In order for casino companies to grow they must expand into new markets — and Florida is considered a top prize.*
In order to maintain their profits, casino companies must continually find new gamblers to lose money in their casinos. In 1988 only two states had casino-style gambling. Today, 39 states do.
Florida’s large population and heavy flow of tourists have always made us a coveted target of casino companies. But expansion of gambling here would threaten our family-friendly brand that is the envy of virtually every other state in the U.S. Several years ago Las Vegas tried to
become a family destination and failed miserably. And now, Atlantic City is trying to reinvent its image following an economic meltdown caused by multiple casino closings last year.
It’s quite simple: a gambling brand and family-friendly brand are not compatible.
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