Latest News
11/13/11 TO 11/19/11

AIF faces off with Chamber -- this time over casinos

FL - Associated Industries of Florida, which refuses to publish its board of directors, always finds a way to give us a little clue as to who has given the business lobbying group some of the most generous donations. This year it's clear it is the casino industry -- perhaps Las Vegas Sands, Genting and Wynn? The clue: the organization has made it a top legislative priority to pass legislation to bring destination resort casinos to Florida. AIF has already financed a focus group conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz in which the bill's sponsors, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff and Rep. Erik Fresen, spoke to the group to test their message. / November 17, 2011

AIF ready to bet on destination resorts

FL - The Associated Industries of Florida released a statement Thursday saying it was going to put its full lobbying muscle behind the destination casino legislation... / November, 17 2011

Aaronson to call for ballot question on slots at Kennel Club

FL - Palm Beach County Commissioner Burt Aaronson wants to ask voters to allow slots here. He planned to ask the seven member board to consider putting the issue to voters in November 2012. Voters in those counties approved slot machines after an amendment to the Florida Constitution allowed the two counties to conduct referendums. A recent appellate court ruling... Found that the legislature has the authority to allow slot machines at pari-mutuels without a constitutional amendment. / Nov. 15, 2011

Abruzzo bill would replace resort casinos with more $ from Seminoles

FL - In an attempt to shift the debate from Miami casinos to the state's bottom line, Rep. Joe Abruzzo is filing a bill Wednesday to direct Gov. Rick Scott to give the Seminole Tribe exclusive operation of casino games in Florida for 15 more years in exchange for an annual guarantee of $750 million. "It's not the best deal for Florida,'' Abruzzo told the Herald/Times. "A 10 percent tax rate, a $50 million licensing fee and not giving parity and consideration to businesses that have been operating in Florida for years is a bad deal.'' Abruzzo, a gambling supporter, has also filed a local bill that would allow the Palm Beach County Kennel Club to start offering slot machines - a measure that, if passed, would violate the current gambling compact with the state. / November 15, 2011

Casino Bill May Expand Gaming Commission Over Florida Lottery

FL - A gaming commission proposed to oversee pari-mutuels, Internet cafes and the potential trio of 5-star casinos in South Florida may also have the state lottery under its watch. "We have gaming in our state, and I don't want our budget to be tied to gaming," Scott said. "It's going to be interesting what the discussion is. The Legislature has to deal with the existing (Seminole) compact. They have to deal with our pari-mutuels." However, if any of the casinos land outside Miami-Dade or Broward counties, the entire (Seminole) compact is nullified. / November 16, 2011

Agents raid 'Winner's Club' in Edgewood, arrest manager

FL - Warrants have been issued for other managers. Santana faces charges including illegal gambling and keeping a gambling house... The business was presented as an internet cafe, but operated an "ongoing series of computer based, slot machine style games referred to as a sweepstakes," / November 16, 2011

Appeals court set to hear Internet cafe violation case

FL - Allied Veterans of the World, Inc., a major operator of the cafes, filed the lawsuit in 2010 after authorities moved to shut down cafes in Pinellas, Jackson, Marion and Seminole counties. Instead, the brief said the attorney general, statewide prosecutor and FDLE commissioner had not taken any action against Allied Veterans and, as a result, the lawsuit should be dismissed. But the controversy centers on people buying Internet time that can be used to take part in computerized sweepstakes games. / Nov. 14, 2011

Barrel racing vs. quarter horses

FL - Advocates of barrel racing see jobs for impoverished Gadsden County, further development of horse and entertainment industries in Gretna, and millions of dollars for the Poarch Band of Creek Indians and their minority-owner partners. Opponents see a move away from their own quarter horse racing institutions and businesses and bemoan what they say could be developing in Gadsden County. They say traditional quarter horse racing on a flat track would lead to a breeding industry growing around the track and much larger economic impact. "If you open the door to allow a substitute for quarter horse races, you've really just opened the door" for barrel racing to replace quarter horse and thoroughbred racing all around the state. / Nov. 14, 2011

Betting on the future

FL - Yet, at the risk of appearing to look a gift horse in the mouth, the question must be asked: What's the rush? The Legislature begins meeting in less than two months, and must end the session 60 days later. Already there is proposed legislation in the House and Senate, with the authors offering soothing reassurances that the draft is just an opening bid and will certainly undergo changes. Maybe so, but this breathless pace seems like a fast shuffle. The customary way of doing business in Tallahassee, with a panting race to a post-midnight finish and clueless lawmakers voting blindly along party lines to support whatever the leadership wants -- sight unseen -- is a mockery of the deliberative process and offers little reassurance to the public. / 11.19.11

* * * Big casino markets don't mean big casino taxes

FL - But low tax rates can cost states money, too. New Jersey, home to Atlantic City, has the country's second-largest casino market but finishes 11th in terms of casino-tax revenue. Those states retain most of the proceeds from the machines, and give a small percentage to the operators. / 11.19.11

Big promises fill first committee hearing on resort casino bill

FL - The head of Genting Americas offered legislators glittering promises and pitches -- from guaranteeing nonstop flights between Asia and Miami, to $1.7 billion in new revenue to the state, to the purchase of thousands of Disney World tickets for resort patrons. But the sales job, including the creation of 100,000 jobs, seemed "over the top" to the Senate sponsor of the bill and even to some of the Las Vegas companies that also want a piece of the action. "There is going to be significant cannibalization of existing facilities," Mitchell (Capri) warned. Abboud raised doubts about the wide disparity between Genting's numbers and a preliminary report by state economists last week that projected the three resorts would generate $980 million a year. / November 17, 2011

Bogdanoff to Genting: 'Tone the rhetoric down '

FL - Genting Americas President Colin Au opened the two-hourSenate hearing on the destination resorts casino bill with the company's trademark glitzy presentation andAu's characteristic bluntness. Au quickly dismissed rumors that South Florida casino jobs will go to people from Atlantic City or Vegas: "Thats bulls**t, okay," he told the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. He repeated the phrase again during his 30-minute presentation, a rare candid comment for the staid confines of the Legislative arena. / November 16, 2011

Bogdanoff: Bye Bye Dept. of Lottery

FL - Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, said that her destination resort bill will likely replace the Department of Lottery with a new Florida Department of Gaming, which would oversee the lottery, pari-mutuels and potentially new destination casino resorts. / November 15, 2011

Bonita greyhound track betting on slot machine vote

FL - Owners of the Bonita Springs greyhound track want to offer slot machines, and this week they outlined their desire to put the issue to voters. Isadore Havenick, of Southwest Florida Enterprises, which owns Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Racing and Poker, brought a pitch to Bonita Springs officials on Thursday, part of a bid to stay competitive and expand the casino's offerings. Commission Chairman Frank Mann sharply criticized any effort to expand casino offerings in the county, calling slot machines "just one more nail in the coffin of Lee County as a family tourism destination." / November 18, 2011

Bunnell delays adult arcade decision

FL - City commissioners Monday night tabled an ordinance that would have created a downtown district where adult amusement arcades -- also known as Internet cafes -- would be prohibited. Jones said organizations operating the machines to fund their charitable and community projects are still using "ill-gotten money." / November 16, 2011

Can South Florida support three destination casinos?

FL - "Dumping three mega resorts into the Miami... Market, which is already mature, is a recipe for disaster," said Andy Abboud, vice president of government relations and community development for Sands. Wynn's owner, Steve Wynn, has said publicly that he believes competing casinos could thrive in South Florida, as has Genting. "We don't really know what the impact is going to be," she (Bogdanoff) said. "So, it's up to three, but future legislators can change that." / November 15, 2011

Casino bill is the wrong bet

FL - Backers of the bill to allow "destination resort" casinos claim that allowing more gambling in Florida would mean less gambling in Florida. No, it won't. Common sense says it won't. History definitely says it won't. Every gambling expansion in Florida has meant, well, expansion. The $500 million a year promised from "racino" slots has produced only about $120 million. The state collects $1.75 million each year from parimutuels to help addicted gamblers but diverts most of it into the general fund. Las Vegas is a good argument against the claim that big casinos can rescue state and local budgets. Nevada is a leader in unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosures. As gambling opponents such as No Casinos and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association argue, casinos would cannibalize existing hotels and restaurants... / Nov. 18, 2011

Casino bosses place bets on South Florida market to persuade lawmakers

FL - From Las Vegas Sands vice president Andy Abboud: Jobs -- plus a possible expansion into Florida of his company's charities, which he said have given millions to medical research and drug clinics, plus support for cultural causes. And Wynn Resorts lobbyist Michael Britt noted that his company's top recent legislative priority in Nevada has been education, At another point, referring to contentions that his resort would put local firms out of business, Au raised eyebrows with his blunt characterization: "That's bull---- ," he (Au, Genting) said. "It does not take people's lunch. It creates lunch, dinner plus breakfast for everyone." / November, 17 2011

Casino developer: South Florida could be bigger than Vegas

FL - The Malaysian-based Genting Group released a one-page summary of an economic study it commissioned saying the addition of three 5,200-room casino resorts would generate as much as $6 billion in gambling revenue a year. The Vegas Strip, long considered the hub of American gambing, generated $5.7 billion last year, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Genting hired Spectrum Gaming Group to prepare an economic study on bringing three casino resorts to South Florida. Regalado said his letter does not reflect a change in his position, and that the Resorts World Miami project would not be too large for the city as long as Genting can address traffic woes and new strains on city services. Braman (business leader), who recently engineered the successful recall of Miami Mayor Carlos Alvarez, said he will make it his mission to defeat the casino gambling bill and the potential of three destination resort casinos in South Florida. He said he's received an flood of calls in the last few weeks from other community leaders interested in supporting his efforts. "People now are really waking up to what's happening.This is an assault on our quality of life." / November 16, 2011

Casino kingpin calls BS - during committee meeting - on gambling critics

FL - Three casinos in Miami-Dade County could ring up $1.7 billion a year for the state's cash-strapped coffers, Au said. The high-end resorts would also create 100,000 jobs in a state where the unemployment rate is hovering near the double-digits, Au pledged. Not just any jobs, either, the Malaysian native announced. Au's use of the profanity is nearly unheard of in the staid halls of the Capitol, / November 16th, 2011

* * * Casinos, tourists and bikes ... a study of some studies

FL - It started the unenviable task of estimating how much the state will make if the destination casino bill passes next year. The part that jumped out at me was that the state's general fund might actually lose $90 million to $88 million by 2015 under the plan as now written. The estimators say that overall, by 2015, state and local government might net $102 million to $4 million. ... Which is to the good, but a long way from the showers of free money casino supporters say would rain upon Florida under the plan. / November 13, 2011

Conservative religious, business groups take sides on GOP casino legislation

FL - Mark Boykin, the senior pastor of Church of All Nations in Boca Raton, and members of C.A.G.E. (Citizens Against Gambling Expansion) will hold a rally next week... Calling on state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff to stop the gambling expansion in Florida. "I believe that everything that happens in Vegas, must stay in Vegas, and we do not need the kind of crime, prostitution, and others evils associated with gambling to expand in Florida." / 11.18.11

Court Hearing Arguments in a Case That May Determine Legality of Sweepstakes Gambling

FL - A Tallahassee appeals court is hearing arguments this afternoon about whether it should revive a lawsuit that could determine whether Internet cafes violate state gambling laws. Allied Veterans is asking the 1st District Court of Appeal to let the lawsuit move forward, as the non-profit organization seeks a declaration that it offers legal sweepstakes games at the cafes -- and not illegal gambling, as critics allege. Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming, too, is not interested in prosecuting internet cafes before the court case's outcome. In an August brief, attorneys for the state largely stayed away from the controversial issue about whether the cafes offer illegal gambling. Lawmakers have filed at least two bills for the 2012 legislative session that could put the cafes out of business, targeting what the proposals call "simulated gambling devices." Critics contend that the games are akin to slot machines, with the proposed legislation saying that "such simulated gambling encourages the vice of compulsive gambling." / November 15, 2011

Debate heats up over mega-resort casinos in South Florida

FL - Au told senators the three resort casinos would create 100,000 permanent jobs and 50,000 construction jobs, pump $10 billion into the economy and attract up to six million new tourists to the region at a time when there are a quarter-of-a-million people out of work in South Florida and the unemployment rate is 18 percent for people between the ages of 20 and 24. The new casinos would offer the full range of slots and table games while existing casinos are currently limited to a certain number of slot machines. The resort casinos would be allowed to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. They, and all gaming facilities in Florida, would be regulated by a new Gaming Commission headquartered in South Florida. Bogdanoff suggests paying the gaming commissioners an annual salary of $125,000 and $135,000 for the chairman. / Nov 16, 2011

Destination casinos said to be price of gambling regulation

FL - HB 487 and SB 710 would create a powerful Department of Gaming Control and a State Gaming Commission -- but also allow three huge new casinos in South Florida. Former state Sen. Dan Gelber and political consultant John Sowinski, leaders of No Casinos Inc., argued that those "destination casinos" would not only expand gambling but also have social consequences including more addicted gamblers, more family financial woes and more public corruption. / Nov. 13, 2011

Destination resorts at first legislative hearing

FL - In the first legislative hearing on the heavily lobbied effort to allow up to three destination resort casinos in South Florida, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale) said the bill (SB 710) had to be written in a way that allows other counties outside South Florida that approve slots at pari-mutuel racetracks to have destination resorts. Gadsden County, in North Florida, approved a voter referendum in January to allow slots at a new horse track. Palm Beach County commissioners will decide next month whether to allow voters to approve slots at race tracks. These facilities believe a loophole in an existing law permits them to offer slots already. / 11/17/2011

Destination resorts bill gets first legislative hearing

FL - In the first legislative hearing on the heavily lobbied effort to allow up to three destination resort casinos in South Florida, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, said the bill (SB 710) had to be written in a way that allows other counties outside South Florida that approve slots at pari-mutuel racetracks to have destination resorts. "People don't understand the scale," Au said. "We are talking about a $10 billion new industry, a 1 to 2 percent lift in the GDP for Florida." But a preliminary state-sponsored economic impact study showed far different numbers. A study by the state's economists show that destination resorts could yield a one-time boost of $155 million next year, according to the Miami Herald, but anywhere between $4 million to $102 million by 2015. Au's frank testimony drew gasps from the crowd when he twice responded with "bulls**t" to defend against accusations that his company would hire from outside the local area or harm area businesses. The bill has yet to have a hearing in the House. The Senate will hold another information-only session on the bill in December before amending and voting on it in January. / Nov. 16, 2011

Destination resorts 'a great fit for Florida'

FL - We met with stakeholders across the board from the Archdiocese of Miami and sponsoring lawmakers to economic experts and business organizations. In the end, we came to believe the adoption of the proposed Destination Resorts Act is a smart decision and one that is in the best interests of the state and the South Florida region. Florida currently is the fourth-largest gaming state in the nation, but the type of gaming we currently have is the wrong type. The Latin Builders Association is proud to support the efforts of these two Florida leaders who recognize that destination resorts are a great fit for Florida. / 11.19.11

Dog track wants slots in Bonita

FL - The owners of the Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Racing and Poker in Bonita Springs want Lee County voters to decide if slot machines should be legalized at the Bonita Springs pari-mutuel complex. Havenick said he plans to ask Lee County commissioners next week to put the proposal on the general election ballot in November 2012. "I haven't seen it," said Commissioner Tammy Hall. "But I don't think I would be averse to having the voters decide it. Havenick's plan is the second casino proposal floated for Lee County. Last month, a group of investors announced it wanted to built a billion-dollar destination resort alongside I-75. For that to proceed it would need both Lee County voter and state legislative approval since no pari-mutuel is involved.|topnews|text|Home / Nov. 17, 2011

* * * Don't make gambling's damage to Florida worse

FL - International casino companies would have Floridians believe there would be no downside to building up to three mega-casinos in South Florida. But statistics tell a different story. New data from the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling ... More than five callers each day -- also admitted they had committed a crime to support their habit. Apparently, Gov. Rick Scott and the Republican-led Legislature don't want to know. Lawmakers slashed support for addictive gambling education... Scott vetoed what little was left in the budget... Only gambling does the state promote, urging Floridians through seductive advertising and in groceries and convenience stores to risk their money on the lottery. Each individual who calls Fowler's helpline represents 50 others who haven't picked up the phone, / November 13, 2011

* * * Estimates on permitting S. Fla. casinos range from break even to $1.7 billion in new taxes

FL - Allowing up to three full-fledged casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward counties could ring up $1.7 billion a year in state taxes, or it could result in a wash, or it could cost Florida more than $133 million it is already getting in tax collections, officials from various gambling interests and state economists variously told the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. Even the proposal's sponsor, Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, said Au oversold the committee and may have done more harm than good. Taxes from construction of the three casinos allowed under the bill would bring in about $44 million and the casinos themselves would generate taxes of anywhere from $4.2 million -- the break-even scenario -- to $102.2 million in 2015, the first year the casinos would likely be up and running, said Amy Baker, Donn Mitchell, chief financial officer of Mississippi-based Isle of Capri, which owns the Isle Casino Pompano Park, told lawmakers that Bogdanoff's bill could destroy a pari-mutuel industry that is already struggling to compete with the Indian casinos and ultimately could cost the state more than $100 million in taxes it now collects. Bogdanoff's plan also would have no limit on the number of slot machines the casinos could run, allow them to give away free alcoholic beverages and operate 24 hours a day, whereas the racinos are limited to 2,000 slot machines per facility, can't give away free drinks, can't stay open around the clock and are currently restricted to slots and blackjack, Mitchell said. / Nov. 17, 2011

Firestorm brewing over future of Florida horse racing

FL - In mid-October, the Florida Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering granted a license to Gretna Racing to hold a first-of-its-kind pari-mutuel barrel-racing meet. But Kent Stirling, the executive director of the Florida Horseman's Benevolent and Protective Association, said a lucrative card room license is behind the barrel racing idea and is a cheap way to satisfy the law. "This is an end run around the Florida statutes, which are a little vague. It doesn't define what racing is," "There is a loophole, and they are trying to drive a truck thorough it. It's terrible. Florida racing associations representing thoroughbreds -- including the Ocala-based Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association -- quarter horses and standardbreds have united to fight the plans. In January, Gadsden County voters will decide on a referendum on whether to allow Las Vegas-style slot machines in the county. "It's a get-rich-quick scheme," Stirling said. "What makes it worse is that you have people involved in the industry trying to destroy it." / November 18, 2011

Florida lawmakers want to rein in state lottery

FL - Republican state legislators pushing for new casinos in South Florida say they want to rein in the Florida Lottery. / 11.15.11

* * * Florida should proceed carefully on casino gambling

FL - First, legalized gambling is incapable of solving the financial crises of states. Only Nevada derives a large portion of its revenue from it. In the '70s, New Jersey faced economic hardship and legalized a state lottery. Soon after it implemented an income tax. Lotteries are ineffective methods of revenue generation because they return half their income as prizes. And although 47,000 people are employed in New Jersey casinos, the state had to enact a temporary increase in the income tax in 2009 for people earning above $400,000. Its sales tax was increased from 6 percent to 7 percent in 2006. Casino revenue in Atlantic City dropped by 30 percent this year, and sports betting might be introduced. / November 17, 2011

* * * Florida's proposed 10% casino tax called jackpot for industry

From: - For a lesson in the economics of casinos and taxation, consider this: The Wynn Las Vegas gives away more free food and drinks than it pays in gambling taxes. Andy Abboud, vice president of government relations for the Las Vegas Sands, a Wynn rival on the Strip with its eyes on a Miami casino, called the 10 percent rate an "incentive" for developing quality resorts. But the proposal to give new casinos what amounts to a two-thirds discount on the existing tax is proving a ripe target for foes trying to foil the bill. "It's one thing to sell-out,'' said John Sowinski, a spokesman for No Casinos, an advocacy group backed by Disney. "It's another thing to do it on the cheap." ... A preliminary study by the Legislature's Revenue Estimating Conference predicted only a modest gain for Florida's budget if the current casino bill passes. First, a clause in the Seminole agreement with Florida that halts the Tribe's payments if new casinos open, and second, a shift of gambling dollars from casinos paying the current 35 percent tax to new ones paying 10 percent. Casinos still prosper in states where governments take more than 50 cents of every dollar of gambling revenue. / 11.19.11

Full-Scale Casinos In Florida Could Damage Las Vegas

FL - If that legislation comes to fruition, it could be Las Vegas casinos that would take the biggest hit in terms of revenue. Nevada has been the gaming capital of the US for decades, but that could all change if Florida becomes a player in the game. Las Vegas has already taken a hit to their revenue stream when Macau started to attract many of the Asian high rollers. Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands have been lobbying heavily for casino resorts in South Florida. / November 17, 2011

Gambling debate intensifies in South Florida

FL - "We're going to create four to five million new tourist arrivals. The three destination resorts can only house a million of them so there would be spillover to the community. Four to five million people can't eat in our 50 restaurants. "The South Florida casinos are going to be sandwiched between these new massive resort casinos and the existing tribal casinos with sever competitive disadvantage. The end result is the resort casinos coming in are going to cannibalize the existing South Florida casinos." / 11/17/2011

Gambling lobby stepping up game as destination bill heads to first workshop

FL - Executives from gambling companies are filtering into town this week in preparation for Wednesday's workshop on the destination resort bill... / November 14, 2011

Gambling lobbyists dominate the big earnings from last quarter

FL - Nearly every one of the highest earning legislative lobbying firms in the last quarter represents someone involved in the debate to bring destination resort casinos to Florida. We took a closer look at the list and here's our breakdown of the casino lobbyists and their earnings. / November 17, 2011

* * * Gambling scramble: Palm Beach County considers slots vote; Fla. senator wants casino agency to run Lottery

FL - Casting the Lottery as "predatory gaming" that she'd like to see shut down, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, said Tuesday it should be regulated by the same appointed gaming commission that would have control casinos. Although voters approved the Lottery in a constitutional amendment more than two decades ago, the agency overseeing it was created by statute, meaning lawmakers can change it, Bogdanoff said. The Lottery is "just simply taking money from our own citizens and not really doing anything to benefit Florida, other than producing revenue for education but that revenue would also potentially be produced because it would be spent in other areas, in shops and restaurants and other places" Bogdanoff said. Besides sponsoring the local bill that would allow slots at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, Abruzzo said he plans to offer a bill that would allow Gov. Rick Scott to renegotiate a deal with the Seminoles and allow the tribe to add craps and roulette at its casinos in exchange for a $750 million annual payment to the state. / Nov. 15, 2011

Gambling with the numbers

FL - Likely scenario if destination casinos are approved: The eight pari-mutuels get a reduction in slot taxes and are allowed to add blackjack. They cement their niche as local casinos and agree to some sort of minimum payment not much different from the $108 million they promised last year when their slot taxes were reduced from 50 percent. Likely scenario: Most financial analysts say three casinos could collect about $3 billion, paying the state $300 million. / November 15, 2011

Genting makes first formal pitch to lawmakers on destination bill

FL - Au said Genting can promise: * 100,000 jobs... * New direct flights from Miami to Asia -- they are promising airlines that they will underwrite flights... * Up to $1.7 billion in revenue for the state... / November, 16 2011

Genting may buy more land in Miami

FL - The Genting Group wants to add the School Board of Miami-Dade County's 10 acres in downtown Miami to the 30 acres it already owns as it plans a destination gambling resort. / November 18, 2011

Genting's spectacular promises raise legislative doubts

FL - But the sales job, including the creation of 100,000 jobs, seemed "over the top" to the Senate sponsor of the bill and even to some of the Las Vegas companies that also want a piece of the action. The bill's sponsor said Genting's presentation may have backfired on the company. "They actually kill their own case because, based on what they want to do, they're going to put all the pari-mutuels out of business and every restaurant in Miami -- and a couple hotels too,'' said bill sponsor Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, Donn Mitchell, chief administrative officer for Isle of Capri Casino in Pompano, told the committee that unless the proposal allows Florida's existing pari-mutuels to operate the same games with the same tax rate as the new casinos, the industry will die and Florida will lose 15,000 jobs and $154 million in tax revenues. "There is going to be significant cannibalization of existing facilities," The study forecasts total gambling revenue from three mega resorts at between $4.3 billion to $6 billion a year. By comparision, the Las Vegas Strip, Generated $5.7 billion last year, / 11.16.11

Greater Miami Chamber releases pro-casino survey

FL - More than 75 percent of those filling out the questionnaire checked "yes" on the question of whether casino resorts would be good for the area. About 160 people attend the forum. / 11.14.11

Gretna Gaming Expansion

FL - A new barrel racing track 30 miles west of the state capital is almost ready for action. When the horses aren't sprinting around barrels, people can play poker. And if voters approve in January, Creek Entertainment Gretna will add 2-thousand slot machines. / November 16th, 2011

Haines City Police Arrest 38; Five Known Gang Members Picked Up in Drug Sting

FL - Haines City police arrested 38 people this week following an elaborate drug task force investigation into the sale of narcotics. Four of the people were seated at a table, gambling. / November 18, 2011

Hillsborough weighs ban on sweepstakes cafes

FL - Hillsborough County Commissioners will consider imposing a moratorium, and possibly a countywide ban on Internet sweepstakes cafes, the proliferating strip mall parlors that offer computer games resembling video slot machines. Board members voted unanimously to hold public hearing in two weeks to decide whether to take the issue one step further by banning the cafes completely. "You would be essentially licensing illegal devices," Brown (lawyer, Sheriff's Office) said. "In our opinion, there's really only one option that this board should be considering, and that's a total ban." Hillsborough Sheriff David Gee recently sent written notice to cafe operators warning that he will prosecute them if they are found to be participating in illegal gambling. / November 16, 2011

House Democrat Counters the Bogdanoff-Fresen Gaming Effort

FL - Abruzzo's bill... Authorizes the governor to extend the length of the compact between the state and Florida Seminoles and allow the tribe to offer banked card games, roulette and craps. / November 19, 2011

How about a casino in downtown Jacksonville?

FL - So with all of the talk about allowing "resort casinos" in South Florida, and lobbyists spending big-time money to push the idea in the Legislature, why not whip up a case for a casino in Jacksonville? / November 14, 2011

In casino fight, all bets are off

FL - Journalists aren't sentimental but they do appreciate irony. Having editorially crusaded for decades against opening South Florida to Vegas-style gaming, the Herald will soon be humbly relocated to make way for an extravagant $2 billion palace of wagering. The casino project by Genting Americas would be one of three mega-resorts permitted in Florida under a bill filed in the Legislature. The deal is no slam dunk, even though the gambling industry has enough dough to paper the halls of the state capitol. The counter argument is that, like the major resorts in Vegas and Nassau, South Florida mega-casinos would market heavily toward a wholesome family experience. All sorts of cool distractions would be available for Mom and the kids, while Dad fritters away their college fund at the roulette wheel. A tourist who checks out of Genting's resort after a few days of recreational wagering might not have much left in his pockets -- or on his Visa card -- to take the family on an Epcot adventure. Ditto for that broom ride through the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal. Every dollar spent in the casino is a dollar unspent elsewhere. Apparently the Fort Lauderdale Republican dwells in some weird parallel universe where Ford salesmen are elated to see Honda open a dealership down the street. The gap between reason and whimsy is vast. A recent report by state economists projected that the new casinos might generate $980 million in gaming revenues, which is only about $5.1billion shy of Genting's sunny forecast. / 11.19.11

Jason Starkman, Epicure Owner, Taken To Court Over $1.2 Million Gambling Debt

FL - Last week, the Seminoles took the owner of Epicure Gourmet Market and Jerry's Famous Deli to court yet again to try to recover a $1.2 million gambling debt that Starkman skipped out on three years ago. Starkman admits he lost the cash playing baccarat, blackjack, and pai gow poker at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, but he later argued in court that the losses were illegal because the Florida Legislature hadn't yet approved a compact with the tribe. Publisher Jerry Powers was taken to court by the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut over a $1.2 million debt. / Nov. 14 2011

Jax senator wants 2 percent of all gaming money for education

FL - (Sen.) Wise is pitching legislation to take 2 percent of all gambling revenues paid to the state and put them in an endowment for education. / November 16, 2011

Jobs a major focus of Senate committee workshop on gambling

FL - Resorts World Americas also referred to its Resorts World Casino New York City as a model: More than 90 percent of its employees are local, with nearly 90 percent being minorities and women, according to a statement. The approval of three destination resort licenses, as is proposed by the legislation, would require significant investment, which would result in a new revenue stream for the state, region and local governments, as well as the local school boards. / November 16, 2011

Just in time, an old name surfaces to lead anti-casino battle

FL - The Associated Press cites more than 100 registered lobbyists toiling in Tallahassee to ram through full-scale casinos at five pari-mutuel sites and add three massive casinos. "This is not a little, small incursion. This is an invasion," he (Miami Beach Mayor) said of big-shot outsiders trying to ram casinos down our throats. "They haven't the slightest idea of what this means to a community in terms of the people who live there." Casinos, he correctly noted, would wipe out the community's character by making us a "gambling factory," destroying an effort by South Florida to improve its image. The statewide No Casinos group named a South Florida leader who fits the mold of Seymour Gelber -- his son Dan Gelber, a respected former state senator and practicing attorney. Dan Gelber can cross party lines to lead a battle that he admits "makes strange bedfellows" who share only the conviction that massive casinos would be a death sentence for our lifestyle, "a major expansion that will redefine the communities and the state itself." The next day Rep. Erik Fresen said he and Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff planned to amend their casino bills so five South Florida pari-mutuels would get not only the much lower taxes of outsiders -- cut from 35% to 10% -- but all the same table games. In 1994 casinos spent $16 million. Sy Gelber and his team had a shade over $1 million but won at the polls by 24%. / November 17, 2011

Kennel club in starting gate

FL - State Rep. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, wants the Legislature to authorize a local referendum to permit slot machines at the dog track, which also offers poker as the result of a previous gambling expansion. Rep. Abruzzo said in an interview that he opposes the destination resort bill because its 10 percent tax rate is too low, as is the $50 million application fee. / Nov. 18, 2011

Latin Builders Association join chorus to endorse casinos

FL - Joining Hispanic contractors and the Florida United Business Association, the Latin Builders Association announced Tuesday that it will also be endorsing the "destination resorts" casino bill... On the other side of the debate, however, are business groups lining up to oppose the resort casinos bill. They include the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the Florida Attractions Association and the Florida Retail Federation. / November 15, 2011

Latin builders say casinos will create jobs

FL - Carrying shovels and wearing hard hats that said, "We need jobs now,'' a major South Florida builders group Tuesday endorsed bills aimed at bringing three resort casinos to Miami-Dade and Broward counties. / Nov. 15, 2011

Lawmakers Test Casino Message at Frank Luntz Focus Group

FL - The sponsors of Florida casino legislation tested their message at a private focus group conducted by national pollster Frank Luntz over the weekend, Sunshine State News has learned. The focus group member came away with the impression that Luntz's program was conducted "for a specific casino company and that the lawmakers were there at the behest of that company." / November 15, 2011 3:55 AM

Letter: Gambling is not worth the gamble

FL - In comes the casino owner with promises of a lot of money, not only for the state but for the city government. Atlantic City is still the poor city it was before the casinos.

Local agencies wait for gambling ruling

FL - The Florida Supreme Court could decide soon whether it will hear an appeal of a lower court's decision that said the Legislature can approve slot machines anywhere in the state. If allowed to stand, the ruling would allow lawmakers to permit destination casino resorts in Florida. Bills have been filed for the 2012 legislative session to license three such resorts in South Florida. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal last month upheld a 2009 law allowing slots at Hialeah Park, although the horse track had been excluded from a 2004 constitutional amendment. / November 13, 2011

Mega Casinos' First Hearing

FL - But existing South Florida dog and horse track casinos told lawmakers they could not survive without the same low tax rate as a mega gaming house. "There's going to be normal cannibalization when new gaming product comes into a market," Don Mitchell with the Isle of Capri Casino said. Those counting the votes say the biggest problem was going to be in the Florida House. Making expanded gambling this year anything but a sure bet. / November 16, 2011

Miami Worldcenter project has new investor

FL - The proposed Miami Worldcenter project north of downtown Miami, only blocks from the Miami Herald site purchased by Asian Casino Giant Genting, is another contender for a casino license if casino gambling comes to Miami. The nearly 20-acre development site, which almost disintegrated during the foreclosure crisis, has a new investor. Los Angeles-based CIM Group became part owner of the nine-block site co-owned by Boca Raton-based Falcone Group and California-based Centurion Partners. Falcone filed for personal bankruptcy in 2008, reportedly moving assets to his wife and children to avoid his debts. Falcone's brother Robert has received publicity for his refusal to pay for shelter for his ex-wife and child while living in opulence with a new wife who is 40-years younger than he is. Robert Falcone reportedly lost $70 million in a bogus money management scheme. Art Falcone reportedly tried to pressure Genting, the Asian gaming giant, into buying his property after Genting bought the Omni Hilton in order to house a large temporary casino facility. Falcone demanded $500 million as well as a minor ongoing participation in gaming revenues. Genting was reportedly not interested. Falcone has also being trying to sell his site to Steve Wynn. / 16 Nov 2011

Miami mayor hedges his support of Genting casino, which is counting on South Florida eclipsing Las Vegas Strip in gambling dollars

FL - The developer behind a plan to build the world's largest casino on the Miami waterfront predicts gamblers will spend more in South Florida than they do in the Las Vegas Strip, the kind of grand transformation that now has the mayor of Miami rethinking his support of the project. Pollock said the study was based on three resorts the same size as Resorts World Miami. That would mean world's three largest casinos would operate in South Florida. "I think it gets back to the more that people really think this through, the more they realize and understand all the pitfalls that casino gambling will bring to this community," Braman said. "I don't think Tomas Regalado wants his legacy stained by being instrumental in bringing casino gambling to this community." / November 16, 2011

Miami mayor: downtown casino could be "the best" or "the worst" for the city

FL - Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado has hedged his support for a massive casino resort on the city's waterfront, writing in a letter it "may be one of the best things that ever happened to our community -- or the worst." But facing pressure from neighborhood groups and billionaire businessman Norman Braman, Regalado sent Genting a letter asking for more information, time to consider the project and the impact it will have on downtown traffic, city services and other issues. "I don't think Tomas Regalado wants his legacy stained by being instrumental in bringing casino gambling to this community." / 11.17.11

Monday Morning Reads: Cash rules everything around Florida

FL - State Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, who introduced gambling legislation last month, told the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida their aim is better controlling the state's pari-mutuel facilities, slots "racinos" and Internet cafes. / November, 14 2011

Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Racing Explores Adding Slots

FL - The Southwest Florida Enterprises, the owners of Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Racing and Poker, have informed Bonita Springs officials they want to add slot machines, / November 19, 2011

No Casinos and supporters join lawsuit against Hialeah

FL - No Casinos, the Disney-backed anti-casinos group, has asked to join Calder Race Track and Flagler Racing in challenging the law that allowed Hialeah to open slot machines at its re-opened race track. / 11-16-11

No Casinos wants to join in on Hialeah slots case

FL - The Orland-based group was joined by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and the Florida Attractions Association. The case is crucial to the destination casino effort because if the Supreme Court should rule that Hialeah needs voter approval for slots, then destination resorts would also need voter approval. / November, 15 2011

* * * No destination for casinos

FL - Do you want more personally and socially destructive gaming in the Sunshine State? Do you want Florida, which has an internationally known, family-friendly image with its amusement parks, beaches and other attractions and treasures, to become another Las Vegas or, worse, an Atlantic City? The answer should be a resounding "no." The lawmakers also ignore a fact of life in Tallahassee -- bills get amended. The number of authorized resorts could easily jump from the three in the bill to five or more overnight. Further, the proposed tax rate -- 10 percent -- on the casinos is a joke. Florida can do better than this to bolster the economy, raise more revenue and put people to work. 40 percent of restaurants and a third of retail stores closed months after casinos opened. / November 13, 2011

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer says "No" to Casino Expansion

FL - Orlando may Buddy Dyer says he is against expanding casinos on a statewide basis. / November 14, 2011

Orlando-based No Casinos supporting Hialeah case

FL - Calder and its supporters argue that voters in a 2004 referendum intended to only allow slots at South Florida racetracks and frontons that were operating in 2004... / November 15, 2011

Out-of-state gaming execs push to build casinos in Fla.

FL - Top-level, out-of-state gaming executives have come from Las Vegas and Asia to compete to build massive casinos in Florida. Au isn't alone in trying to persuade lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow three resort casinos to go up in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. At the hearing, the bill's sponsor even floated the idea of allowing the casinos across the state.

Pari-Mutuels Want Restrictions Lifted, Taxes Lowered If Legislators OK 5-Star Casinos

FL - By creating a level playing field, the pari-mutuels want what has been proposed for a trio of 5-star resorts: 24-hour gaming; Las Vegas-style table games; being able to provide free drinks to players; the ability to offer credit to customers; and, most importantly, to have a tax rate that is on par with what has been proposed for the new facilities. Without such changes, the pari-mutuels will continue to side with outfits such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Disney that are opposed to the bill now before the Legislature. Mitchell says the 5-star resort casinos would cut into the Seminoles business, and the tribe would in turn focus on "cannibalizing" customers from the pari-mutuels, which would be further at a disadvantage as the Seminoles are expected to open up their gaming options as the compact is altered. / November 17, 2011

Pastor and CAGE Plan Rally Against Bogdanoff's Gaming Bill

FL - "I am extremely disappointed in Senator Bogdanoff's attempt to expand gambling in Florida," "She ran as a family values candidate. I supported Senator Bogdanoff; I held a fundraiser for Senator Bogdanoff; I voted for Senator Bogdanoff and now she is walking away... / November 18, 2011

Proposed gaming bill would have negative impact

FL - But the Destination Casino Legislation, as proposed, would have a negative and, possibly, devastating impact on our community. And to add insult to injury, the economic benefits appear to be headed to Tallahassee, while we in Miami are left to address the enormous traffic, infrastructure, law enforcement and social costs. No tax money stays here in Miami, where the tax is generated, and where we would need it to mitigate the impact of mega-casinos. At a minimum, any traffic remediation required by the construction of a mega-casino should be built concurrently with the development and funded in advance. Anyone who thinks for a second that a transportation solution would come later from a tax generated locally and then sent to Tallahassee should have their heads examined. When our Legislature counts the jobs, I hope they and the governor also count the jobs that will be lost. When you add this many rooms, restaurants and entertainment subsidized by gaming, it will have -- without a doubt -- a negative impact on the remaining hotels, restaurants and other businesses. / 11.19.11

* * * Resort casino benefit estimate 'flawed'

FL - Resort casinos would boost state coffers next year by about $155 million, mostly from licensing fees, but the net benefit to the state once the resorts are in full swing in 2015 would be only between $4 million and $102 million a year, according to state economists. The preliminary estimates assume the state will lose $99 million in annual revenue-sharing payments from the Seminole Tribe beginning in 2015. That's because at least one county outside South Florida would be expected to approve a resort casino, invalidating the state's compact with the Seminoles that gives the tribe exclusive rights to offer gambling outside South Florida. The analysis predicts that the new casino resorts would draw 3 percent of the slot machine business from the racinos and 17 percent from the Seminoles' Hard Rock Casino near Hollywood. / November 13, 2011

Scott meets with 'The Post': Hot for jobs, lukewarm on casinos

FL - A day after a casino developer told legislators that bringing three gambling resorts to Broward and Miami-Dade counties could generate 100,000 jobs, Scott was noncommital on whether he'd sign a bill to expand gambling in the state. "I don't want the state to be significantly dependent on gaming from a financial standpoint," Scott said during an hourlong interview. "Now, there's going to be a lot of discussions and when, if, they get to a bill, I'll look at it then." / Nov. 17, 2011

Seminole Tribe's Gaming Payments to State Near $500 Million

FL - The Seminole Tribe of Florida announced Tuesday it is one payment away from the $500 million mark in gaming compact payments made to the state of Florida. / November 15, 2011

Seminoles sue Miami businessman over $1.2 million gambling debt

FL - Last week, the Seminoles took the owner of Epicure Gourmet Market and Jerry's Famous Deli to court yet again to try to recover a $1.2 million gambling debt that Starkman has skipped out on for the past three years. "Under Florida law, it's an unenforceable debt because the compact wasn't legal in November 2009," Blum (lawyer) says. / Nov 17 2011

Should voters approve slots at PB Kennel Club?

FL - State Rep. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, says the Palm Beach Kennel Club is at a competitive disadvantage. Racetracks in Miami-Dade and Broward counties offer slot machines, thanks to a 2004 constitutional amendment that let voters in those counties approve slots for pari-mutuels. The Kennel Club also is competing against nearby Seminole casinos. / Nov 18, 2011

Slot machines arrive at Miami Jai-Alai casino

FL - More than 1,000 slot machines have arrived at Miami Jai-Alai's new state-of-the-art casino. / 11-17-11

So long Lottery - hello Department of Gambling?

FL - The Lottery, which brings in about $4 billion a year, is an already-existing executive agency which could be morphed into a statewide gambling commission, Bogdanoff said at a press conference this morning with the Florida Latin Builders Association. Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, said the commission could also possibly rein in the Lottery, which she said is "taking money from our citizens and not really doing anything to benefit Florida." / November 15th, 2011

South Florida lawmakers discuss easing casino restrictions

FL - A major construction association in South Florida announces it will support legislation to build three, multi-billion dollar resort casinos In Miami-Dade and Broward counties because of the jobs they would create. The association says Florida currently offers the worst kind of gaming, including the state lottery, which preys upon low-income people. / 11/16/2011

State dismisses barrel racing opponents' petitions

FL - Florida regulators on Friday rejected requests for administrative hearings from opponents of a new form of pari-mutuel gambling: quarter horse barrel racing. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation said the groups lacked standing and failed to meet other legal requirements necessary to challenge racing dates that the agency has approved for Gretna Racing under its quarter horse racing license. Dr. Steve Fisch, a veterinarian who is president of both associations, said he wasn't surprised by the decisions but that he was surprised at the state's apparent willingness to trade potentially thousands of flat track racing jobs for far fewer barrel racing and card room jobs. / November 18, 2011

* * * State diverts cash collected to aid problem gamblers

FL - As Florida lawmakers consider a major expansion of gambling in the state, they are spending less than ever to keep gamblers from getting hooked or to help those who have a problem. Although the state collected $1.75million from pari-mutuels for gambling prevention and education programs in the past year, the legislature allocated less than one-sixth of that - $264,700 - for such programs. It plowed the rest of the money back into the general revenue fund to help cover a $3.8 billion budget hole. Lawmakers last spring also allocated $569,000 from Florida Lottery revenue to spend on compulsive gambling programs, but Gov. Rick Scott vetoed that item in the state budget. Instead of having more than $2 million from the state government this year, the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling has been left nearly broke in 2011... We have no money to continue the programming that has taken us 15 years to build in the state of Florida and that is a model program in this country," she said. "We're an educational advocacy organization. We're not politicians," she said. "The gaming industry has very deep pockets. They have lobbyists. There's no one with deep pockets to speak for the people we represent. By the time gamblers typically make a call, they often have lost nearly everything and are considering suicide, she said. The hotline received more than 16,000 calls last year, More of them are turning to crime such as prostitution, burglary, embezzlement and money laundering, he said. / Nov. 14, 2011

State spending less on gaming addiction

FL - While the state collected $1.75 million from pari-mutuel gaming facilities for gambling addiction prevention programs, lawmakers only actually put $264,700 of that into such programs, using the rest to plug holes in the general revenue budget, / 17 November 2011

Stephen Wise wants to steer gaming money toward education

FL - The bill would take 2 percent of all gaming money that comes into the state each year and place it in an education endowment. He was clear that this was separate of this year's effort to bring "destination" casinos to Florida, but it would include money tied to those facilities. He does not yet have a House sponsor. / November 16, 2011

Steve Wynn Eyes Miami Beach Convention Center for Gambling Resort

FL - Las Vegas casino king Steve Wynn was recently in Miami dining at Joe's Stone Crab... And eyeing the Miami Beach Convention Center as a potential spot for a new gambling resort. When asked if he thought the convention center should be knocked down, he said it should simply be expanded. / November 14th, 2011

The Great Florida Casino Debate Fires Up

FL - Lawmakers questioned the numbers. Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, who is a sponsor of Senate Bill 710 thought the numbers were overblown. "There is no way you are giong to get 100,000 jobs," she said. As far as the bulls**t, that was Au tamping down rumors that workers would be imported from Atlantic City and Las Vegas to staff the proposed facility. Project indicated that part of the masive entertainment complex would contain "housing for foreign workers." / Nov 16, 2011

The largest number of gamblers are "from the poorest segments of the population."

FL - The Florida Family Policy Council, an Orlando-based conservative Christian organization, has sided with gambling opponents. "My own judgment is that large commercial gambling outlets such as casinos and state-sponsored lotteries bring much more harm to a society than the benefits they generate (such as tax revenue)... First, it is socially harmful (and fiscally regressive) because the largest numbers of gamblers comes from the poorest segments of the population. Second, (it) leads to an addiction to gambling ... and this addiction destroys marriages, families ... and increases societal breakdown. Third, studies have shown that where gambling businesses are established, crime rates increase." Lottery studies. There is a lot of evidence -- some focused on particular cities or states -- that lotteries draw in poor people. One of the report's co-authors, Philip Cook, told PolitiFact in an e-mail that his research shows "poorer households spend a higher percentage of their income on state lotteries (which are the most common form of gambling). The percentage who participate in lottery play is not higher for low income households. But those who do play, play a lot." "The bottom line is a lot of this gambling is directed toward the poorer segments of society who are spending proportionally more," said John Kindt, a business administration professor at the University of Illinois who studies gambling. Kindt said he was speaking primarily about lotteries but that lotteries are like a gateway drug to creating new addictive gamblers. "We are making poor people poorer." / October 20th, 2011

Tourism hiring rebounded in Miami, still off in Vegas

FL - By many measures, Sin City's economy sunk deeper than Miami's did. Among all of the major metropolitan areas in the country, Vegas has the highest unemployment rate: 13.6 percent. Property values sunk 58 percent from their peak in the housing crash, compared to the 49 percent drop in South Florida. Vegas also leads the nation in foreclosures. Gambling opponents point the region's tourism statistics as proof South Florida doesn't need gambling, / 11.14.11

* * * Welfare money spent at 'Casino Cafes'

FL - An NBC2 investigation uncovers money meant to feed and clothe needy children, is instead spent on games at internet cafes. "The notion that they operate untaxed, unregulated in strip malls right next door to the Publix or the drycleaners, creates I think a menacing situation," Plakon said... The NBC2 Investigators found $7,120 public assistance dollars withdrawn at ATMs inside internet casino cafes across the state. NBC2: You got to admit, the games do look like you're gambling? Strawbridge: I mean, you can look like anything you want to. Like I said, we provide that entertaining element to make our promotion work. / Nov 16, 2011

What Gov. Scott said in meeting with Palm Beach Post

FL - Casinos: Doesn't want state "significantly dependent" on gambling; if bill passes, will weigh effect on pari-mutuels, Indian pacts before signing. / Nov. 17, 2011

What's the truth about gamblers and income?

FL - "My own judgment is that large commercial gambling outlets such as casinos and state-sponsored lotteries bring much more harm to a society than the benefits they generate (such as tax revenue)... / November 18, 2011

While AIF Touts Casinos, Chamber Rejects Genting's $25,000 Check

FL - The battle over "destination resorts" in Florida is pitting two of the state's largest business organizations against each other, with one rejecting a casino company's $25,000 check and bid for membership. Erika Alba, who chairs the AIF's board of directors, is public affairs director at Foley & Lardner, a law firm that lobbies for the Genting Group, a gaming company vying to build "the world's largest" hotel-casino in Miami. In September, Jessica Hoppe, general counsel and vice president of government affairs for Genting's Resorts World Miami, handed a $25,000 check to Allan Bense, then-chairman of the Chamber's board of directors, in a bid to join the organization. "Genting offered a five-figure check to join the Chamber. That check was promptly returned," with no membership granted, Ousley said. "Disney has been a member since the 1970s. There's a long period of consistency," she said. Unlike AIF, which does not divulge its board membership, the Chamber lists its board members on its website. / November 18, 2011

Wynn Cheats His Lowest-Paid Employees

FL - As Las Vegas Casino Mogul Steve Wynn wines and dines Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower to put a Casino Hotel at the Miami Beach Convention Center, courts have ruled that Wynn is cheating his lowest-paid employees in Las Vegas out of $5 Million a year in tips. A fight over a tip-pooling policy that forces some of Wynn's Las Vegas Strip casino workers to share their tips with their supervisors is headed to the state Supreme Court after a district court judge overturned previous findings by Nevada's labor commissioner. Anger over the tip-sharing policy led to unionizing efforts by dealers at Wynn, who voted in 2008 for collective bargaining representation through the Transport Workers Union of America. / 16 Nov 2011