Category Archives: Economics

GUEST ARTICLE: How the Florida House Gambling Bill is the More Sensible Approach

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling bills presented in this years Florida Legislature. Its very clear that both take very different approaches to the issue and a guest article published by Florida Politics by NoCasinos John Sowinski, breaks the issues down and concludes the House has the more sensible approach:

There are two things we can count on in Florida. In any given body of water, eventually the alligators will show up. And in any given meeting of the Florida Legislature, the same applies to gambling lobbyists. Feed either and they only become more insatiable.

With regard to the gambling interests, unfortunately, the Florida Senate is setting up a buffet of glutinous proportions. Proposed legislation calls for the biggest expansion of gambling in Florida’s history.

It literally would recreate our state in Nevada’s image, with casinos popping up in communities from the far reaches of the Panhandle to the end of the Everglades.

There would be two new Las Vegas-style casinos in Broward and Miami-Dade, a region already suffering from a glut of casinos. There would be a massive increase in gambling supply there, without a corresponding increase in gamblers, creating a dynamic in which the casinos could only survive by cannibalizing each other’s customers. Even the gambling industry’s own financial experts predict that 95 percent of the patrons would be locals, not tourists.

This type of gambling over-saturation is what brought the industry crashing down in Atlantic City, but not before it eviscerated existing local jobs and businesses from restaurants to retail stores.

But the Senate bill does not stop with more gambling in South Florida. Initially, casinos would spread to eight other counties. That only would be for starters because under Senate Bill 8, every horse track, dog track or jai alai fronton could become a casino.

Getting back to the alligator analogy, what the Senate is proposing is akin to taking 500 bags of marshmallows out into the middle of Lake Okeechobee at midnight and tossing them in the water….

Understanding this, leaders in the Florida House have taken a different tack. They have put forth a bill that fixes weaknesses in existing gambling law, closes loopholes that gambling lawyers continually exploit, stops the proliferation of slot machines throughout Florida, honors Florida’s constitutional restrictions on gambling, and respects the will of the people of Florida, who have consistently rejected statewide expansions of gambling. Finally, it provides for an agreement with the Seminole tribe that would achieve the stated intent of the original Seminole compact — holding the line on gambling and creating a firewall to stop the spread of casinos throughout Florida.

The entire article can be read HERE

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Guest Article: Only Casino Interests Push Casinos in Florida

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of the Florida based group, No Casinos, and their attempts to protect Florida families from the ever increasing dangers of expanded gambling. The group’s president, John Sowinski, has addressed these issues on many levels, including directly answering positions or articles that seek to advance the casino’s interest. This article is one such response:

As the president of No Casinos, I occasionally respond to the pro-gambling missives of an industry that has the same interest in Florida that a tick has in a basset hound. But one that recently appeared in Sunshine State News is a bit novel. According to Steve Norton, who helped bring big-time casinos to Atlantic City and now wants to do the same favor for Florida, Orlando has blocked the rest of the state from gambling happily ever after May 12 guest column, “Floridians Should Look Beyond Orlando to Weigh Casinos’
Benefits”. …

No Casinos gets singled out for its effectiveness in this effort and I certainly appreciate the shout-out, even if in his very first sentence, Horton spilled the beans that I get paid. I only wish I got paid as much as the people on his side. But seriously, and with all due humility, we are not as good as Horton implies. It’s not like casinos are some unknown quantity that we can spin a gullible public into opposing.

Casinos are multiplying in some parts of the country like amoebas in a petri dish, getting so crowded that they now are cannibalizing each other to survive. Raise your hand if you’ve ever been in one. So we don’t have to plot any voodoo marketing strategies. All we have to do is shine a light on the industry and say, “Hey, look everybody.” Rest assured, when Florida has said no to expanded gambling, time and again, it has done so with eyes wide open….

A common myth perpetuated by the industry is that more and bigger casinos spur economic development and create jobs. In fact, the state’s chief economist has dismissed that argument. Casinos don’t create new business. They simply divert money that would have been spent elsewhere to slot machines and card tables.

In its comprehensive analysis of the Florida gambling market, the Spectrum Gaming Group reported that 93 percent of revenues from an expanded casino market would come from residents, not a stampede of high rollers flying in from around the globe. That means little economic benefit, no significant number of new jobs and no increases in local salaries. This is all public record, not No Casino spin.

But for argument’s sake, why not? Why not open the door to more casinos? Here is my answer: Casinos create gambling addiction and then profit from it. Research indicates that living close to a casino doubles the chance of someone becoming a problem gambler, with a third or more of casino revenues coming from such problem gamblers.

There also is growing research about the addictive nature of high-tech slot machines, which actually can transfix players in a zone, dribbling out just enough small winnings to keep them pumping in more money. It’s all about increasing seat time to maximize losses.

For the complete article, please click HERE 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Multiple Anti-Gambling Expansion Ads Surface in Opposition of Florida’s New Gambling Expansion Bill

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing opposition this year’s early gambling expansion legislation in Florida that would legalize mega-resort, full-scale, Vegas-style gambling casinos. Several groups have already been vocal with their opposition and now multiple television ads have been released. The first television ad is outlined in a Busineswire Press Release:

No Casinos, Inc. has unveiled a new 30-second ad, “New Deal,” that outlines the historic expansion of gambling proposed in House Bill 1233, which was introduced March 2, 2015 by Rep. Dana Young (R-Tampa).

The video details how the bill benefits so many in the gambling industry, to the detriment of Florida and its citizens. Among the bill’s broad-reaching proposals: out-of-state and foreign gambling conglomerates win the ability to build mega Las Vegas-style casinos; dog and horse tracks and frontons outside of South Florida win a new gambling game, dubbed “historical racing,” that plays like a slot machine; and tracks and frontons in South Florida win a lower tax rate.

Who loses? Florida’s image, communities and taxpayers. Statistics from the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling show that nearly one-third of callers to its HelpLine admit to committing crimes to support their gambling addiction. Simply put, more gambling equals more addicts equals more crime. And taxpayer dollars cover the cost.

The second set of television spots seeks to support the existing Seminole Compact that offers exclusive rights for tribal gambling. The Sunshine State News reports:

The leadership of the business community stepped up on Monday to go to bat for the Seminole Gaming Compact while urging Florida to limit expanded casino operations in the Sunshine State.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida released a new TV ad on Monday featuring Mark Wilson, the president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and Carol Dover, the president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, calling to support extending the compact which is up in July.

“Florida is changing, which is why we need to extend the compact and limit gambling,” Wilson said. “Changing it could lead to the expansion of gambling, which simply is unacceptable for a state that has worked hard to grow its economy and develop a family-friendly image.”

 

 

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Florida Restaurant and Hotel Lobby Join the Opposition to Newly Proposed Gambling Expansion Bill

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent bill proposed by the Florida House to essentially ignore the Seminole Gambling compact and instead authorize mega Las Vegas style resort casinos among other gambling expansion around the state.   The opposition to the introduction of the bill was immediate and now the Florida Restaurant and Hotel Lobby has come out against this gambling expansion. The Saint Peters Blog explains:

The *Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association *– a group with outsized importance in our state’s tourism-centric economy — issued a statement Tuesday excoriating the *proposal* released yesterday by House Majority Leader *Dana Young*.

“We will continue to fight this legislation, along with any other measure that seeks to expand gambling under the false pretense that it will bring additional jobs, attract more tourists, and increase Florida’s tax base,” said FRLA President and CEO *Carol Dover*. “Florida currently enjoys record number of tourists, and provides a strong [return on investment] on tourism and hospitality dollars. We are confident legislators won’t be fooled by casino operators’ false arguments.”

Dover wasn’t the only industry critic of the new legislative package. A pair of stakeholders took turns teeing off on the bill, portraying dark ramifications were it to become law.

“Florida’s tourism industry is predicated on pristine beaches, family-friendly attractions, and world-class and unique hotels and restaurants,” said 2015 FRLA President *Andrew Reiss*, who also owns Andrew’s Capital Grill & Bar and Andrew’s 228 in Tallahassee. “To believe for one moment that our state needs to establish so-called destination resorts as an economic development measure, when other states have seen firsthand the harm done to local economies, is a cautionary tale that Floridians would be wise to adhere.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


NCAA March Madness Likely to Lead to Billions in Gambling and Lost Workplace Productivity

Just as the country has calmed down from the huge wave of Super Bowl gambling, a new Selection Sunday and NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament signals the beginning of another gambling craze.  As the sports world gears up for another year of March Madness its important to understand the impact that office pools have on employers and the communities. Obviously, not all office pools will result in gambling, however, a vast majority do involve illegal gambling. A USAtody article points to reports of online pools that take an entry fee and award cash and prizes. These pools may seem harmless but FBI spokesman Ross Rice explained that,‘“There could be a violation if there’s a payout and if the operators take a cut.” So how many people will engage in office pools this time of year and how will it impact work productivity? The St Louis post dispatch provides some good insight:

Nearly half of U.S. workers have participated in an office pool, and nearly a quarter have watched or followed sports events on their computer at work, according to a recent survey. 10 percent of employees have called in sick to watch or attend a game. 11 percent of workers aged 18 to 24 have participated in an office pool, compared to 77 percent of those 65 and older.

Very few employers offer guidance in their policies regarding office pools, even though it may mean taking a hit in terms of productivity, said John Heins, chief human resources officer for recruiting and staffing company Spherion Corp.

In terms of cost to employers, the Charlotte Observer points to a Chicago-based surveywhich says as much as $1.7 billion will be lost by employers in productivity, which breaks down to $109 million lost for every 10 minutes spent following the tournament. They believe there will be over 37 million workers participating in pools with 1.5 million watching games and results online from their desks.

 ESPN recently quantify the financial impact of just the gambling: 

On the low end, the FBI estimated in 2013 that $2.6 billion was bet illegally on the tournament. On the high end, veteran bookmakers estimate the number to be anywhere from $12 billion to $26 billion. Friendly bracket pools are everywhere, with most everyone betting on the NCAA tournament in some form. But there are bets, and then there are bets. You don’t get to $26 billion with $20-per-sheet office pools.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Major Gambling Expansion Legislation Proposed by Florida House

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts of the Genting Group to bring full-scale, Vegas-style, gambling casino resorts to Florida. Currently, casino’s rest with the Seminole Nation but various attempts over the years have sought to expand beyond tribal gambling. Casino Watch Focus last reported that the current gambling compact with the Seminole Nation, which limits full scale casino gambling games to the Seminole’s in exchange for guaranteed revenue to the state of Florida, was up for renewal and it didn’t look like a deal would be reached this legislative session. If that happens, then Florida could propose its own casino gambling destinations, albeit at the expense of the guaranteed revenue provided by tribal gambling. Florida’s legislative short legislative session started with a new bill being introduced that would allow for major gambling expansion. The Miami Herald explains:

South Florida could become an even bigger gambling haven with two new destination resort casinos and four dog tracks operating slot machines — instead of racing dogs — under a sweeping gaming rewrite filed Monday by House Republican Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa.

The measure, filed in the traditionally gaming-averse House, takes a novel approach to gaming by requiring destination resort operators to buy out active gaming permits in order to operate the swanky casinos.

The bill also helps the powerful South Florida pari-mutuels, which have contributed heavily to GOP election coffers for the last several years, by reducing the tax rate for existing racinos, allowing dog tracks in Palm Beach and Naples to run slot machines, and ending the requirement that dog tracks race dogs in order to offer gaming.

Gaming options would also expand in other parts of the state, such as Jacksonville and Tampa Bay, where wagering on videos of “historical races” would be allowed as a new form of gambling. The seven casinos operated by the Seminole Tribe would also see expanded games as they could offer the full array of black jack, roulette and craps that are available to the resort casinos.

Major opposition to Rep Dana Young’s bill was not far behind. The Miami Herald went on to report:

“This bill would cause the biggest expansion of gambling in Florida history,” said John Sowinski, director of No Casinos, a gaming opposition group backed heavily by Orlando-based amusement part operators like Disney and Universal. “It invites wall to wall casino gambling in Florida, and the social costs and crime that go with it.”

He repeated the oft-used line of opponents, that casinos in states like New Jersey and Las Vegas are struggling and said “it defies logic for Florida to increase its dependence on gambling at a time when casino economies across America are imploding.”

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION


Guest Article: Three Reasons Floridians Should Care About Plight of Atlantic City

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.

For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION