Latest News
9/12/11 TO 9/17/11

A public square for Miami's downtown without casinos

FL - Let's keep in mind that there will be hordes of lobbyists trying to convince us that we absolutely need casinos to fund and maintain infrastructure projects in the Omni-downtown area of Miami. But the truth is we don't need them, and the further truth is we have funded a total of well over $1 billion in three cultural facilities in that area ($600 million for the Adrienne Arsht Center and over $500 million combined for the Miami Arts Museum and the Miami Science Museum). And that doesn't even count the CRA monies expected to be plowed into Bicentennial/Museum Park. With just three private sector projects currently on the drawing boards (Genting, Swire's City Center in Brickell and the Jose Cuervo project in Coral Gables), we have close to $5 billion of privately funded projects ready to be built. As planned and announced, they will add a total of over $100 million a year in county, city and school board taxes. (Any budding economist can calculate the present value of such a stream of revenues, at today's discount rates, to be well over $2 billion.) Miami will be the most exciting global city because of its natural, cultural and human assets -- not because we have casinos in every hotel. / 09.17.11

Area senators share views on gambling, but only one keeps key committee post

FL - Senate President Mike Haridopolos has yanked Stephen Wise, R - Jacksonville, from the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. "Let me tell you, I vote against all the gambling bills....there really is not a scenario where I would support the idea." He was replaced on the committee by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, who is expected to carry this year's casino bill. / September 16, 2011

As Internet cafes spread, bans considered; owners say they're just offering 'sweepstakes'

FL - These Internet cafes - which some dub "casinos on the corner" - are flourishing in Florida's punishing economy. An estimated 600 to 1,000 cafes are operating in the state, part of what critics call a murky $1 billion industry accused of exploiting gambling laws and preying on those who can least afford to lose cash. "They're the crack cocaine of gambling," said state Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, who is sponsoring legislation to outlaw Internet cafes. Players purchase Internet time - $15, $25, more or less - in the cafes. They can browse the Web if they want. But most play what are billed as free sweepstakes games, in which computer credit or time is won. It can be redeemed for payouts of as much as a few hundred dollars. But Brian Kongsvik, a director at the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, said the industry has only found a way to nuance state gambling laws. Its growth and its targeting of working-class neighborhoods also are key threats, he said. Arnie Wexler, a compulsive-gambling counselor from Lake Worth, said he has been advising a Palm Beach County woman who recently received a $22,000 second mortgage on her home to help cover gambling debts. Internet cafes were part of her addiction, he said. Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll also reported on her latest state-required financial disclosure form that a public relations firm she and her husband owned, 3N and JC Corp., had an Allied Veterans site as its major client, although she claimed less than $1,000 in net income from the company.

Casino battle is great news for lobbyists

FL - Gambling interests, from South Florida, from Las Vegas, from around the globe, are hiring fearsome armies of lobbyists to shape or thwart gaming legislation percolating in the Legislature. Particularly, the twin bills sponsored by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale and Rep. Erik Fresen of Miami that would permit three giant "destination casinos" in South Florida. The Herald's Mary Ellen Klas reported last week that famed Las Vegas gambling concerns like the Las Vegas Sands. Caesars Palace and Wynn resorts have swept into Tallahassee, hiring big lobbyists and writing big checks. Genting has reportedly hired three powerful lobbying firms, for an estimated $300,000... The Sands, according to the Orlando Sentinel, has increased its stable of lobbyists from eight in 2010 to 11 in 2011. / 09.12.11

Chamber will enter casino debate, new leader says

FL - Shaffer, head of Blue Cross Blue Shield in South Florida, largely refrained from diving into political topics during an interview with Business Monday. She did offer encouraging words for Genting, and predicted the Chamber would wade into that debate. / 09.11.11

City approves agreement for Dania Jai Alai expansion, casino

FL - Dania Beach commissioners recently approved a development agreement with the prospective new owners of Dania Jai Alai that would permit the construction of a slots casino, hotel, cabana club, retail shops and marina. A one-story, 60,000-square-foot addition in the rear that would house up to 2,000 slot machines is expected to be completed October 2012, / September 16, 2011

Economy Pushing Florida Lawmakers Towards Vegas-Style Gambling

FL - Lawmakers have acknowledged that if it was not for the economy, the gambling bill would have little chance of passing. The legislators also contend, however, that gambling expansion would be an easy fix to the state's budget shortcomings, and that has many lawmakers changing their stance on the issue. / September 13, 2011

Gambling downfalls

FL - When a group enters the 'gray area' of operating a gambling house by installing gambling machines in their clubs , more happens than meets the eye. Far worse and more sinister than the downside of gambling on the sucker, is the very real fact that other laws begin to be broken . Tax's are not paid , for one. The money taken in can be accounted for in a dubious manner. this leads to skimming . A thief among criminals is not much of a stretch. A little money for a certain few , passed under the table can be intoxicating . And habit forming. / September 13, 2011

Gambling ends in shooting

FL - The Escambia County Sheriff's Office is investigating a shooting that left a man injured. The shooting stemmed over gambling, Ward said. / Sep. 16, 2011

Haridopolos shuffles committee deck, lines up new votes for prisons and casinos

FL - Senate President Mike Haridopolos released his long-awaited revamp of Senate committees Friday and made changes that are clearly intended to shape the votes on some controversial issues, particularly casino expansion and prison privatization. * Sens. Norman and Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, were removed from the Senate Regulated Industries Committee and Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, was added. Bogdanoff will sponsor the bill to bring casinos to South Florida. Wise was an outspoken opponent of expanded gambling and Norman was not a guaranteed yes. Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich, who is also a casino supporter, was left off the committee list as a mistake, she said. / September 16, 2011

Is Fantasy Football Illegal? Florida Says Yes

FL - So the question becomes, if you live in Florida, and you are part of one of the hugely popular fantasy football pay leagues, are you committing a criminal offense? The answer is yes! In fact, it is a second-degree misdemeanor. The Florida Attorney General issued a formal opinion that specifically applied fantasy football to the list of "illegal" gambling (Op.Atty.Gen. 91-3, Jan. 8, 1991). / 9-12-11

Legislators Push to Bring Casinos to South Florida

FL - The sponsor of the bill to bring resort casinos to South Florida thinks that the arrival of gambling giant Genting, the state's dismal economy and a rush of casino cash gives legislators a chance this year to catch "lightning in a bottle" and pass the long-sought legislation. The proposals will also consolidate the regulation of the existing gambling industry under a single gaming commission and regulate or outlaw so-called internet cafes that have exploited a loophole in state law to open storefront casinos, the legislators said. / September 12, 2011

Optimism, caution in reaction to Genting plan

FL - In order to help win legislators' approval for a casino, Genting revealed that it had gained control over the entire mortgage on the troubled Omni Center, currently in foreclosure. Genting plans to turn that complex into the first stage of Resorts World Miami, opening a casino with restaurants, bars and entertainment facilities as soon as next fall -- if approval comes from legislators for a gambling license. / 09.15.11

Proposed casino hopes to lure in whale-sized wallets

FL - Gaming interests are emphasizing this whale-sized potential as part of an intense Tallahassee lobbying push. State lawmakers in the capital must pass legislation allowing resort casinos before Genting or any other casino developer can install slots and table games. Despite those legal uncertainties, Genting has already purchased The Miami Herald's downtown bayfront headquarters, along with some surrounding parcels. State Rep. Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican, plans to file a destination casino bill in the next two weeks, and says the new facilities would be a "game changer." Fresen's bill will call for the issuance of three resort casinos licenses in South Florida, with two likely to set up shop in Miami-Dade and one in Broward. Companies like Genting and Las Vegas Sands are hoping for a tax rate of 10 percent. / 09.15.11

Some Fla. Lawmakers See Time Right for Casino Gambling

FL - State Rep. Erik Fresen and State Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, both Republicans, plan to introduce legislation in the next two weeks that would create three new licenses to operate casinos in South Florida. Should the bill pass, it's expected that Malaysian-based casino company Genting Malaysia Berhad... Wynn Resorts, Caesars Palace, and the Last Vegas Sands will vie for licenses. / 13 Sep 2011

South Florida Tea Party Will Monitor Casino Plans In State

FL - South Florida Tea Party Chairman Everett Wilkinson, whose organization opposed the Destination Casino Resort Legalization sponsored by Senator Dennis Jones (R- Seminole) in the last session of the Florida Legislature, said the SFTP would evaluate any upcoming proposals to legalize casino gambling in Florida "to ensure that Florida taxpayers get maximum benefit." "We will support Governor Scott if he decides to expand Casino Gambling" said Wilkinson, a former US Marine whose Tax Day Rally in Boca featuring Donald Trump was attended by over 5,000 supporters. / 12 Sep, 2011