Category Archives: Economics

Missouri Senate Proposes Gambling Expansion at a Time Many View as Socially Irresponsible

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing gambling expansion issues in Missouri.  The most recent issues have been the illegal gambling machines in places like gas stations and truck stops and those hoping for a new casino at the Lake of the Ozarks.  This specific expansion policy involves increased pull tabs at truck stops, and several Missouri legislators thing the idea is socially irresponsible.  The Columbia Daily Tribune reports:

The Missouri Senate passed its spending plan Tuesday with language allowing the state lottery to install 100 new pull-tab machines throughout the state and open up truck stops to the games for the first Time. Currently, only 500 are allowed and they can only be installed in veteran and fraternal organizations. The pull-tab name refers to the perforated tabs covering slot-machine style symbols on tickets dispensed by the machines. Players pull back the tabs to see if they’ve won a prize.

But a number of lawmakers objected to the idea, calling the expansion morally wrong. Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, said it would be “a direct offense to our low-income people who will divert their money to things like this.” “This bothers me a lot,” he added.

Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, said the same thing and that it would be even worse at a time when people are reeling from the pandemic and the resulting downturn. “With people not thinking as straight as they normally would with all the pressures of the stay-at-home and lack of community and other things that would stabilize a person, I think the impact would be even greater than it would at another time,” he said.

Sen. Eric Burlison, R-Battlefield, added that the idea “disgusted” him. “I’m not a fan of funding our schools through gambling,” he said.

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Las Vegas Mayor at Odds with Nevada Governor over Reopening Casinos Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various impacts Covid-19 is having on the gambling industry.  Non-essential businesses all over the country have closed, including casinos.  Naturally, many will be hit hard economically, and that’s especially true for those in the tourism industry, like Las Vegas.  So it’s no surprise that there are economic concerns over the mandated closures.  However, what was a surprise was the way Las Vega Mayor Carolyn Goodman treated the seriousness of the pandemic in her CNN interview with Anderson Cooper.  Forbes reports:

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the mayor of Sin City said she believes Las Vegas’ “nonessential” businesses like casinos should be permitted to operate again after being shut by a statewide order, so employees can get back to work—but came under fire on social media for not having a safety plan.

While Goodman told Cooper she believes social distancing should still be practiced even after businesses open, she said it isn’t her job as mayor to come up with a plan to ensure residents’ and visitors’ safety, and that the responsibility falls upon private business owners to figure out how to protect customers.

When asked by Cooper about the dangers of having large groups of people congregated together—which is against Centers for Disease Control coronavirus safety guidelines told Cooper he was being “an alarmist,” and also said he was too focused on disease while she was “talking about life and living,” to which Cooper replied, “Okay, that makes no sense.”

Unfortunately, the seemingly unbelievable responses from the Las Vegas Mayor were far from over.  In a rather bizarre attempt to find some justification for being open when the rest of the country was closed, Mayor Goodman explained how she wanted to put the city up as a test group and just let everyone in to see what happens.  Forbes continues:

During the interview, Goodman said she wanted to offer up the city “as a control group for health authorities to measure against other places still under lockdown as the city opens up to test the efficacy of social distancing, but said she was told by Las Vegas’ statistician that it wasn’t an option because people from all parts of southern Nevada come into Las Vegas for work each day, which would create too many variables.

Goodman’s comments seemed to echo previous statements she made, including telling MSNBC’s Katy Tur on Tuesday that if the casinos are allowed to open, the locations where people become infected by the virus could later be closed, a method that critics called “a /Hunger Games/” approach  to reopening the city.

Luckily for the people of Las Vegas and those addicted gamblers that might actually flock to Vegas should it open ahead of the rest of the country, Nevada state Governor Steve Sisolak is not letting Las Vegas open prematurely and under the draconian Hunger Games approach suggested my Mayor Goodman.  The St. Louis Post Dispatch explains:

In a testy interview with CNN’s Anderson CooperWednesday, Las Vegas mayor Carolyn Goodman repeatedly called for business to return to normal. “I’d love everything open because we’ve had viruses for years that have been here,” she said at one point. 

Goodman also criticized Cooper for showing a graphic from Chinese researchers that showed how easily the coronavirus can be spread in public. “This isn’t China. This is Las Vegas, Nevada,” Goodman said, prompting a stunned Cooper to retort: “Wow. OK, that’s really ignorant.”

Goodman acknowledged she does not have the authority to reopen casinos or other businesses in the city. That call will come from Nevada governor Steve Sisolak. And Sisolak is not rushing to get back to business as usual. In an interview with Cooper after Goodman’s comments Wednesday, Sisolak said Nevada is “clearly not ready to reopen” and that he will not use Nevada as a “control group” for the rest of the country.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board issued strict guidelines earlier this week detailing the many steps that casinos will need to take before reopening. And casino employees have also balked at the idea of returning to work. “The mayor’s statements are outrageous considering essential frontline workers have been dealing with the consequences of this crisis firsthand,” said Geoconda Argüello-Kline, secretary-treasurer for the Culinary Workers Union, Local 226 in a statement. “Health and safety is our priority. Workers and guests have to be safe,” she added.

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


States Urged to Temporarily Shut down Lottery Gambling as Coronavirus Economic Stimulus Checks are Sent Out

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the various impacts Covid-19 is having on the gambling industry. All across the country, casinos are being closed, alongside other businesses, as stay at home orders are in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  Obviously this has lead to a sharp downturn in the economy and the government has responded with economic stimulus checks.  One group is wisely suggesting to state legislators to temporarily suspend their lotteries to help ensure that money can be spent on essentials, and not sent back to the government through state funded gambling.  An online source reports:

Stop Predatory Gambling, which has been a familiar face at online gambling hearings on Capitol Hill over the years, on Monday sent a letter to governors of states with lotteries. SPG National Director Les Bernal said in his letter that federal relief money sent to families could be used to “subsidize state lotteries.”

Bernal called for lotteries to temporarily shut down by arguing, in part, that people shouldn’t be able to spend their stimulus checks on that form of state-sanctioned gambling. Casinos across the country have closed, sports betting has come to a near standstill, and only four states have some form of legal online casino gaming. That has left the lottery as the only widespread form of gambling still active.

“We are writing to call on you to immediately shut down the marketing and selling of all state lottery gambling games until the financial turmoil caused by the coronavirus has passed,” Bernal said.

Such advocacy is solidly grounded as those with the least economic ability tend to be the ones to spend the most on the lottery.  Les Bernal addresses these issues in a press release that accompanied the letter:

As part of its letter to state officials, Stop Predatory Gambling included its 2020 Briefing on State Lotteries also issued on Monday. The report spotlighted lotteries as one of the root causes why more than 60% of Americans had less than $1000 in savings before the coronavirus pandemic occurred.

The report found “state governments have turned a nation of small earners, who could be small savers, into a nation of habitual gamblers on course to lose more than $1 trillion of wealth to government-sanctioned gambling over the next eight years. At least half of this wealth – $500 billion – will be lost to state lotteries.”

Bernal hopes the lottery shutdown and the new report will bring sorely-needed attention to “America’s most-neglected problem today.”

“Building assets and the accumulating and investing of savings, are the keys to financial peace,” Bernal said.   “A home, a college fund, retirement accounts, a stock portfolio—these assets are the hallmarks of middle and upper class America, and they are all the result of savings. Creating wealth by the accumulation and investment of savings is the direct opposite of what state lotteries represent and encourage.”

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


Vatican Says Using Gambling for Tax Revenue is Unethical

Casino Watch Focus has reported many times on various states expanding gambling as a means to collect tax revenue, often times at the expense of its own citizens. 100 years ago virtually all forms of gambling were illegal, but slowly, one state at a time, gambling has been made legal by states looking to take their cut of the action. Some gambling expansion takes the form of lotteries, other expansion measures are full-scale casinos. The sales pitch is typically the same, why not allow some harmless fun that will allow the state to bring in some much needed tax revenue, often times promised to local educational causes. Unfortunately, gambling is rarely simple fun and leads to out breaks of crime and addiction. As such, the Catholic Church has come out in opposition to generating tax revenue from gambling, calling it unethical. The Catholic Spirit reports:

Legalizing gambling fuels addictions, creating more and more compulsive gamblers, and using the industry as a source of tax revenue is unethical, said a major Vatican office.

“The legalization of gambling, even when it is supported by the intention of unmasking its criminal management, exponentially increases the number of pathological players,” said an introductory note to an international conference on drugs and addictions, organized by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

“Moreover, taxation by the state is to be considered incompatible from an ethical standpoint and contradictory in terms of prevention,” it said in the conference program, released Nov. 26.

“As the landscape of addictions diversifies, indifference and at times indirect complicity in this phenomenon contributes to diverting the attention of public opinion and governments, often focused on other emergencies,” it said. 

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


Yes on Amendment 3 – Voter Control of Gambling in Florida

Casino Watch Focus has reported the ongoing progression of Florida Amendment 3.  The Amendment found itself on the Nov ballot with easy and the polls have shown overwhelming support.  That said, it’s still important to clearly understand the three reasons why you should vote Yes on Amendment 3.  The Voters in Charge website provides great resources for those looking to dive deeper into the issue.  Luckily, it’s an extremely straight forward amendment that requires any gambling expansion decisions by the Florida legislator to be approved by voters before it can become law.  Voters in Charge provided three clear reasons why this is a very easy Yes vote:

  1. Amendment 3 empowers voters—not politicians and lobbyists.For decades, Florida voters decided casino gambling issues in the Sunshine State.  Then, politicians took that power for themselves.  Amendment 3 simply returns control of casino gambling issues to the voters.  That’s how it used to work in Florida—and how it still works in states across the country.  Most Americans already have the power to vote on casino gambling issues—you should, too!

  2. Amendment 3 reduces casino corruption.In the last decade, powerful casino gambling interests gave over $50 million to Florida politicians.  Today, they control many politicians—but they can’t control   Amendment 3 ends casino corruption by putting voters—not politicians and lobbyists—in charge of gambling decisions in Florida.

  3. Amendment 3 allows our elected officials to focus on more important issues.Unfortunately, casino interests have so much money and influence that they often “set the agenda” in Tallahassee.  Amendment 3 takes the power away from Tallahassee, so our elected officials can stop focusing on gambling and start working on issues that affect all of us, like: education, traffic, healthcare, jobs and the environment—just to name a few!

 

For more information, please watch the following brief video and visit the Voters in Charge website

 

 

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


GUEST ARTICLE: [Florida] Lawmakers’ Rushed Deal to Expand Casinos in Miami is a Reckless Gamble

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing efforts to expand gambling in Florida by authorizing a new, Las Vegas style, destination resort casino. As recently pointed out by the Mason-Dixon poll, the vast amount of voters, 84%, want to either hold the line or actually reduce gambling expansion. When it came to gambling expansion through new casinos, the Florida legislature has typically done as the people have asked and not expanded gambling in this measure. However, that appears to be coming to an end as House and Senate are making a deal to allow a new casino to come to Miami and they are facing huge opposition. The below article is the office Miami Herald Editorial Board position:

After years of an impasse between the House and Senate on expanding casinos in Florida, comes a sudden and unseemly rush to get the job done.

The Legislature needs to slow its roll of the dice. Legislation pushed through in a hurry, without much, if any, public notice or input, is never a good thing….

House and Senate leaders appear to be closing in on a deal to radically revamp Florida’s gambling industry and strike an agreement with the Seminole Tribe in what could be a considerable expansion of gambling throughout the state — and Miami-Dade.

The measure rightly has been met with resistance from gambling opponents. This rush toward a decision in the session’s final days to allow, among other things, a new casino in Miami-Dade has that hush-hush, backroom feel — almost always unwise, and usually at taxpayers’ expense.

Count the Editorial Board among those calling for putting the brakes on this troubling quickie deal. The Board has long opposed turning Miami-Dade into a Las Vegas-style destination — and we continue to do so. Gambling, indeed, can transform communities — often for the worse. Miami-Dade is a progressive community of great accomplishment, but one, too, that already is a magnet for too many dangerous and illicit activities. Casinos won’t help…

Among the opponents of the deal is Armando Codina, one of Miami’s most prominent developers, who told Herald/Times reporter Mary Ellen Klas that he was surprised by the sudden legislative sprint. Codina, chairman of Codina Partners, LLC, a real estate investment and development firm based in Coral Gables, has long been a critic of expanded gambling in the county.

“I’m well-informed, but this surprised me how it was snuck in without any public debate,” said Codina.

He added that while the new gambling revenue would flow to the state and county, it will cost Miami-Dade dearly, leaving the community with the kind of infrastructure and social problems that it is already hard-pressed to handle. We agree. 

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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


American Gaming Association Mysteriously Doubles Economic Estimates for Florida Gambling Expansion

Casino Watch Focus has reported that a newly established Florida Senate Gaming Committee issued a two year gambling study back in 2012. There was plenty of criticism about the company hired to do the study being too connected to the gambling industry. It was reported that the first part of the study, released during the summer of 2013, pointed to potential harm to Florida’s Turisim if additional full-scale Vegas style casinos were allowed. Then, the study’s results were stalledas the results were not as boisterous as the gambling industry had hoped. Now, the American Gaming Association is releasing information regarding Florida’s gambling expansion that is somehow double what was originally reported. A press release by No Casinos explains: 

No Casinos: Pro-Gambling Group Mysteriously Doubles Casino Jobs Claim in Less Than 80 Days

American Gaming Association changes its numbers to make industry look better

ORLANDO, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

No Casinos made the following statement based on the re-release of the American Gaming Association’s economic impact numbers:

How many jobs do casinos create in Florida? The number apparently has more than doubled since Sept. 30, when the American Gaming Association released a national report on the economic impact of gambling.

That report claimed there were more than 3,200 casino jobs in Florida, with gambling revenues of $467.6 million. The AGA apparently has corrected itself, now claiming there are more than 7,400 Florida jobs “supported” by gambling, with a total economic impact of more than $1 billion.

“It appears that the first set of numbers wasn’t impressive enough so they cooked up another set,’’ said John Sowinski, President of No Casinos, Inc. “Maybe if they go back a third time, they’ll find the $500 million that South Florida casinos promised our schools every year. Nobody else has been able to find it.’’

The full press release can be read HERE. The SunSentinel Online also spoke with No Casinos and outlined additional information regarding the claim by the AGA and why the true impact to Florida from gambling expansion is not as its being portrayed:

John Sowinski, president of No Casinos Inc., says that the revenues generated don’t really have an effect on the state and that gambling is a “parasitic” business, meaning that the money spent on slots and casino restaurants would merely be spent elsewhere in the state — and the report doesn’t take into account the social costs of gambling.

“The slot revenues run the state of Florida for about 18 hours,” he says. “It is a blip on the screen, a rounding error.

“This is all to do about money that we’d spend anyway, and hopefully it’s discretionary spending, not money that Floridians need to pay their bills. That’s not really economic impact. It’s redistribution backward.”

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Casinos won’t help Florida’s economy

In an open letter to the Miami Herald,Paul Davies and Barbara Whitehead, Institute for American Values, New York, share a empirical perspective from around the country of why Florida doesn’t need more gambling to help its economy:

In the mad scramble for more gambling dollars, Florida’s timing could not be worse. The state’s legislators are contemplating the addition of casinos as declining revenues in other states indicate the gambling boom is over.

States that come late to the party can still milk money from casinos. But the pickings are getting slim as more markets become saturated and the growth cycles get shorter.

Pennsylvania enjoyed steady growth in casino tax revenues for six years before the returns dropped last year. Increased competition from casinos opening in Maryland and Ohio were partly to blame.

In Detroit, casino revenues dropped 4.7 percent last year in part because of competition from Ohio. In Indiana, casino revenues plunged 15 percent over the past six months, hitting an eight-year low. In Wisconsin, the drop in casino revenue there prompted some to say there is a gambling glut.

Colorado, Missouri and New Jersey have all seen sharp declines in casino revenues. Louisiana’s casino revenues were down 4.4 percent in December, including a 16 percent drop in New Orleans. Mississippi’s revenues fell almost 5 percent last year and are down 27 percent since hitting a peak in 2007. Since then the casinos have slashed 8,500 jobs.

A study by the Rockefeller Institute found that casinos do not solve state budget woes, but instead provide unpredictable revenues. That can cause problems for states that become hooked on casinos as a revenue source.

Delaware is a harbinger for other states looking to cash in on casinos. The tiny state was early to the casino game, opening slots parlors at three racetracks starting in 1995. Initially, tax revenues soared and eventually casino gambling accounted for 8 percent of the state’s budget. But as soon as casinos began opening in Pennsylvania in 2006, Delaware’s gambling revenues began to drop. The recent addition of casinos in Maryland has further reduced Delaware’s casino revenue.

In response, Delaware tried to add more gambling options, including legalizing sports betting in 2010 and online gambling in 2012. That did not stop the losses. Last year, the casinos began threatening layoffs unless the state lowered its tax rate, which is 43.5 percent on gross slots revenue.

Rather than reduce taxes, Gov. Jack Markell gave the casinos an $8 million bailout. So the casino industry has gone from generating revenues for the state to receiving a taxpayer subsidy.

The News Journal, Delaware’s main newspaper, had the best solution: “Delaware should start getting out of the gambling business,” the newspaper wrote in an editorial last year. “It is too dependent on what was once the easy money of a state-controlled monopoly.”

Adding casinos in Florida has similar challenges. The state already has lots of gambling, including Indian casinos and Internet cafes, referred to as “convenience casinos.” Given the gambling expansion in other states, the opportunity for growth from out-of-state gamblers is limited.

Here’s the good news: Florida doesn’t have to go down the road of other states that bet on casinos and are now chasing their losses. Instead, the state would be wise to focus on businesses that grow the economic pie rather than fight for a shrinking piece of it.

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