If south Florida voters say yes to slot machines in race tracks and Jai Lai frontons, an option to tax the slots’ take could mean hundreds of millions of dollars for education.
State Rep. Ron Greenstein says gamblers are already spending the cash at unregulated Indian casinos, and it’s time Florida got its share.
"We don’t have an income tax; we’ll never have an income tax. Sooner or later people are going to have a revolt over their property tax. If there’s money sitting out there and we can get it and we can control better the situation, then why not."
But others are trying to put up roadblocks. Rep. Randy Johnson says slots will suck up money that could have been spent in restaurants and other businesses that generate needed sales tax.
"It’s going to cost Floridians an enormous amount of tax revenue, plus we’re going to have to spend money on all the social costs. We’re going to have to pay for the broken families; we’re going to have to pay for the gambling addictions."
Jeb Bush’s concerns about the flood gates opening appear to be coming true. The Miccosukee Tribe has already asked the governor to begin negotiations on allowing them to have slots at their casinos.
Slots supporters insist the proposal won’t expand gambling and schools will be the real winners.
Stacey Brenan, slots proposal spokeswoman, says, "They’re not going to have slot machines anywhere else in the state, only in south Florida in the seven existing pari-mutuel facilities, but they’re going to benefit because they’re going to receive the funding for public education statewide."
Still, federal law allows the tribes to offer whatever gambling the state allows. That could mean the bells and whistles of Las Vegas-style slots coming to an Indian casino near you.