Impact of Gambling Expansion on Florida's Economy

By: Lanetra Bennett
October 7, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - How would expanded casino gambling impact Florida and its economy?

State Senate Committee members tried to get answers to that question.

Consultants hired to study the issue say the unfinished report is close to 800 pages. The Florida Legislature will use it in discussing gaming legislation.

Monday, the consultants called Florida a gambling enriched state, and pointed out that lacking a clear gaming policy does not mean limited gambling.

One of the consultants says, "Decisions to expand or introduce any form of gaming will have ramifications that are going to last for generations."

The Florida Senate Gaming Committee wants to know what those ramifications could be.

Consultants have been hired to study potential changes in Florida's gambling industry.

Senate Gaming Committee Chairman Garrett Richter says, "There's a lot of meaningful information in the report, information that we can utilize as a foundation. What we want to get from Spectrum is a report that is reliable, meaningful, and understandable."

Monday, the consultants told the committee that expanding gambling would have a moderately positive impact to Florida's economy, and say there would be a net increase in state tax receipts.

However, they say, there would likely be only mild positive impacts on local and statewide employment wages.

"This is because casinos would not represent a large expansion of their local economies, at least in the larger Florida counties, which is where we'd assume the most likely sites for any casino expansion would be." One of the consultants told the committee.

The consultants say social cost would not dramatically change because Florida is already exposed to an array of gambling opportunities.

The committee chairman says the next step in the process is to begin public hearings to get feedback from the public. There are four scheduled: one in South Florida, Lakeland, Jacksonville, and Pensacola.

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