By: Mike Vasilinda
October 30, 2013
A 400,000 dollar study of increased gambling’s economic impact on Florida found little boost for the economy. State lawmakers are holding the second of four public hearings this afternoon (in Lakeland) on whether to allow mega casinos, and one of the most vehement opponents already has a piece of the pie.
Florida’s dog tracks and jai alai fronts that don’t have slots, want them. Four counties have voted to allow slots in existing facilities, but the state won’t grant licenses, and big players are pushing for at least one mega casino in South Florida. “What we really want is to have one competitively bid destination or integrated resort permit,” says Nick Iarossi, Las Vegas Sands.
State senators will hold a total of four hearing. Their goal: Comprehensive regulation of all gambling in Florida but most suspect there will also be mega casinos.
The Florida Chamber is the loudest voice shouting no. “Well, our view is the juice simple isn’t worth the squeeze. These casinos, they need us far more then we need them.” says David Hart, Florida Chamber.
But the position of one of the state’s biggest players has gambling supporters crying foul. Disney has consistently opposed more gambling, but reports show the entertainment giant makes millions licensing its Marvel Comic Characters to slots and other entities.
Spider Man is prominently featured in the promo for a new high tech slot machine.
The Chamber says Disney bough Marvel after most of the licensing agreements were in place. Integrity Florida calls it hypocritical.”To say that they’re against the expansion of gaming to protect Florida’s family-friendly brand does not ring true especially since they are profiting off of gaming themselves,” says Dan Krassner, Integrity Florida.
In the end, billions of dollars are at stake and that makes for what will be the most bitter battle of the coming legislative session.