Latest News
9/18/11 TO 9/24/11

Bring casino resorts to Florida?

FL - Critics say casinos would cannibalize other tourist attractions rather than bringing in new revenue. They cite social costs and point out that gambling hasn't saved Nevada's economy from being among the worst in the Great Recession. / Sept 22, 2011

Bus catches fire on I-275

FL - A bus full of gamblers got their first lucky break before they even arrived at the casino -- They escaped from a burning bus with no injuries. / 20 Sep 2011

Can Gambling And Casinos Generate Revenue For Florida?

FL - During the governor's campaign, he was against expanding gambling and bringing billion dollar casinos to the state. But with a four to six billion dollar deficit, it appears that the governor could support expanding gambling and bringing Las Vegas style casinos to Florida. Once Governor Scott was elected, his first month he had meetings with Las Vegas Sands ownership. Florida is now the sixth to fourth largest gambling state in the country. They believe that supporting gambling will create gambling addicts and compulsive betting, and more residents will need psychological help. Also many connect gambling with illegal activity to fund their habit, such as embezzlement fraud, or theft. / 9/22/2011

Casino Resorts, Immigration, Insurance Reform Top Haridopolos Agenda

From: Casino Watch <> - "I don't want to see Florida become another Las Vegas," he (Harodopolis) said. But added, "I also want to go to the place that has the most upscale gaming in the country, where people don't go just to game, but (for) the luxury, restaurants or the amenities of the hotel." / September 21, 2011

FL - Casino juggernaut unimpeded in its assault on legislature... Traffic will gridlock, Miami Beach hotels suffer, the Miami Beach Convention Center wither. The former Omni Mall may hawk casino lunch hours. Local governments and voters would get no say as state-approved casinos move in and reprogram the community. Mr. Au returned to the stage to announce Genting was acquiring the former Omni Mall as a casino for locals, with multiple entry cards, based on how much clients might gamble. While at Genting's $3 billion resort across the street out-of-towners would have gambling space of 600,000 square feet -- big as a good-size office building -- at the Omni locals would use get even more gambling area, 675,000 square feet. So much for an "exclusive" clientele. Global giant Genting would build using money gamblers lose elsewhere, then send home its Miami take. That's no recipe for economic recovery. Las Vegas Sands, meanwhile, talked of its own 15- to 25-acre casino complex just west of Genting's. Several other Vegas operators are hovering. All could include convention space -- Genting hopes to persuade those lawmakers that campaign contributions coupled with state-collected casino taxes for, perhaps, education justify inflicting mega-casinos on South Florida. The gold rush is on, with everyone gambling on table crumbs as Genting cleans up. Traffic patterns will change. We'll have to build roads. Mr. Au said the Metromover station must be upgraded. Policing must grow in a gambling town, so pray Miami finds a strong chief to lead our 1,100 officers and 300 civilians into a whole new world. New studies Mr. Lim is funding will support his figures. He also noted upcoming legislative elections, for which Genting can supply campaign war chests. / Sept 22, 2011

David Rivera Named One of the Most Corrupt Congressmen

FL - Most of Rivera's ethics troubles stem from his dealings with parimutuels. Funny how a politician's ethics seem to go right out the window when rich gambling interests are involved. As a result, Rivera is under investigation by the FBI, IRS, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Miami-Dade Police public corruption unit, and Miami-Dade State Attorney's office. / Sep. 20 2011

Editorial: A destination Florida should not become

FL - In the midst of a sluggish economy that may be slipping back into recession--although many Floridians would say it feels like the Great Recession never ended--gambling interests from Malaysia, Las Vegas and closer to home are investing huge sums of money in real estate and lobbying armies to convince policymakers in Tallahassee more gambling is the answer. "Any time you try to open that window, everyone tries to jump through it and you never actually reduce gambling; you increase it," Cannon told the Herald. I also remember back in 2004 when statewide voters were told approval of a state constitutional amendment to permit slot machines at existing pari-mutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties would limit the expansion to just to South Florida. And yet, it was the narrow adoption of that amendment (under highly dubious circumstances, I might add) that became the pretext for the Seminole compact--with full-fledged casinos in Tampa and Southwest Florida. In addition to Genting, other gambling giants are in the game lobbying for destination casinos--Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and Caesars Palace. According to several reports, gambling interests have beefed up their lobbying army in Tallahassee at considerable costs, with the Herald noting that lobbyists with close ties to Gov. Scott, Speaker Cannon and Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, are among the high-powered lobbyists working on behalf of destination casinos. Perhaps it was the gambling interests' lobbying muscle that explains Haridopolos' recently announced re-vamped Senate Regulated Industries Committee roster that is widely seen as more friendly to casinos. It is truly evil... That the state would rely upon making its own citizens losers in order to seek economic development to benefit others, and even worse to make its citizens losers to pay the state's bills. / Sep 21, 2011

Editorial: On the fringes

FL - Rep. Scott Plankon, R-Longwood, who sponsored the bill, said earlier this year: "I submit that the nexus of the functional equivalent of slot machines and convenience gambling (Internet Cafes) is a toxic brew of problems that threaten the fabric of many of our communities." / September 19, 2011

Employee of Pompano company accused of stealing nearly $1.1 million

FL - An employee of a Pompano Beach... Electronics business was arrested Tuesday after being accused of embezzling nearly $1.1 million in 27 months. She admitted to her boss she took money because of a gambling problem, / September 20, 2011

Fla. House Speaker remains skeptical about casinos

FL - Cannon said Thursday that he remains philosophically opposed to expanding gambling in Florida although he said he will keep an open mind once legislation is actually filed with the Florida Legislature. / September 22, 2011

Florida Senate president pushing casino resort vote

FL - Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos is taking a gamble on gaming. The Merritt Island Republican said Tuesday that he's pushing for a vote on legislation that would permit destination gambling resorts in Florida. He cited casino gambling on Seminole Indian reservations, jai alai, dog and horse racing, poker rooms and "cruises to nowhere" Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, plan to file bills that would allow gaming companies to bid on licenses in South Florida. Haridopolos recently took a fundraising trip to Las Vegas and met with casino operators there but didn't name names. / September 20, 2011

Florida lawmakers aim to 'give Las Vegas a run for its money'

FL - Two South Florida lawmakers plan to meet this week to iron out details of legislation to create a new resort casino industry here that would, as one state senator put it, "give Las Vegas a run for its money." As currently being drafted, the bills would create a state gaming commission to regulate the casinos and allow the state to issue a set number of gaming licenses, Both maintain that such legislation does not need voter approval and can be enacted by the Legislature with approval from Gov. Rick Scott, particularly in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, where a heightened level of gambling already is permitted. Both lawmakers say Florida already is one of the nation's top gambling states although there has been political opposition to acknowledging that and allowing expansion of the industry here. / Sept 22, 2011

Genting casino will kill Miami and Miami Beach

FL - Sure, there's a lot of potential to generate much-needed revenue for the City of Miami. But the type of resort that Genting executives are promoting will suck the life out of everything else in the Magic City and Miami Beach. And I don't buy into the promises that Genting will create 30,000 permanent well-paying jobs for Miami residents. (Luther "Luke" Campbel) In order for the project to be successful, Genting must make sure no customer ever leaves the site. Miamians will get hired to sweep the floors, change the sheets, and serve the food. We don't have a workforce experienced in manning gambling tables and managing the casino floor. / Sep 22 2011

Groups rev up to fight gambling expansion in Florida

FL - Politically powerful South Florida pari-mutuels want the right to build competing destination casinos. The Seminole Tribe... Says new casinos would nullify its year-old compact that pays the state $200 million a year for exclusive gaming rights outside South Florida. Anti-gambling groups from the past, including Orlando-based No Casinos Inc., are gearing up to fight any gaming expansion in the state. Haridopolos and other lawmakers, including state Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, who is sponsoring the casino legislation, have voiced support for keeping the destination-resort expansion restricted to Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Lawmakers in the past have been squeamish about a statewide expansion. Pari-mutuel facilities in Miami-Dade and Broward counties that operate slot-machine "racinos" helped bring down the destination-casinos movement last spring by pushing for the same treatment -- including a lower tax rate -- as the Vegas-style casinos. In 2010, the state and the tribe signed a 20-year compact that will pay the state about $1 billion during the first five years. In exchange, the tribe got exclusive rights to operate Vegas-style slot machines outside South Florida, plus the right to operate banked card games such as blackjack and baccarat at five of its seven facilities. Barry Richard, a prominent Tallahassee lawyer representing the tribe, said any plan allowing destination casinos -- either statewide or in South Florida -- would violate the compact, and the tribe would likely stop paying the state. Scott has been cagey in response to questions about his position. A recent document obtained by the Orlando Sentinel/Sun-Sentinel outlining some of his legislative priorities lists gaming under a heading of "Outstanding Issues/Questions." / By Kathleen Haughney / September 24, 2011

Groups rev up to fight gambling expansion in Florida

FL - Politically powerful South Florida pari-mutuels want the right to build competing destination casinos. The Seminole Tribe says new casinos would nullify its year-old compact that pays the state $200 million a year for exclusive gaming rights outside South Florida. Anti-gambling groups from the past, including Orlando-based No Casinos Inc., are gearing up to fight any gaming expansion in the state. South Florida is the prime target for Vegas-based Wynn Resorts and Las Vegas Sands, as well as Genting; all view Miami as an international tourist destination. Barry Richard, a... Lawyer representing the tribe, said any plan allowing destination casinos -- either statewide or in South Florida -- would violate the compact, and the tribe would likely stop paying the state. No Casinos Inc., an Orlando-based group that successfully fought a casino initiative on the 1994 ballot, has reactivated itself. "It comes with a ton of social costs," he (Sowinski) said. "You have to regulate it; you've got to increase costs for law enforcement; you've got treatment for addiction." / September 24, 2011

Haridopolos Pushing Casino Resort Vote

FL - The Merritt Island Republican (Haridopolos) said Tuesday that he's pushing for a vote on legislation that would permit destination gambling resorts in Florida. To help make sure such a bill gets a floor vote, Haridopolos said he changed the membership of a key Senate committee last week. Gambling traditionally has drawn opposition on moral grounds, but casino resorts also could get push-back from the Seminoles and pari-mutuel industry unless the legislation includes some benefits for them as well. / September 21, 2011

Haridopolos expects Senate to vote on destination casinos

FL - The Florida House has traditionally been more reluctant to consider anything construed as gaming expansion. Besides the political hurdles, the fate of destination casinos in Florida is also tied to legal action over the Legislature's power to expand gaming. / September, 20 2011

Internet cafes in Florida, Georgia walk a fine line on federal, state gaming laws

FL - The cafes say they don't require purchases, just as McDonald's doesn't, but merely award game chances with each purchase as a promotional device. Anyone wanting to play for free can request a chance in writing. Prosecutors and cops disagree. "The problem with their loophole is there is no intent to promote their product," said Vernon Keenan, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. A typical scenario is for a business to advertise itself as essentially a sweepstakes parlor. Customers buy phone cards and get with each purchase a separate, magnetic card with credit for a chance for every minute of phone time purchased. Some parlors have 50 or more terminals. Plankon cited a federal lawsuit slapped on Seminole County by Allied Veterans of the World, the state's biggest internet cafe operator, after commissioners there passed an ordinance banning Internet cafes. Jacksonville is the largest city to try to regulate Internet cafes. An ordinance passed by City Council members caps their numbers, limits what type of signs they can use and prohibits the sale of alcohol. Plankon has filed another bill for January's legislative session trying to ban Internet cafes, and another bill attempting to regulate them is expected to be filed in the coming weeks. / September 17, 2011

Local AARP chapter planning to take trip to Hard Rock Casino

FL - A trip to the Hard Rock Casino in Tampa on Tuesday, Oct. 25, will be sponsored by the local AARP chapter of High Springs. / September 22, 2011

Make sure the state wins

FL - Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, has changed committee assignments to fast-track the gambling resort legislation. House Speaker Dean Cannon, R-Winter Park, is neutral so far, but his Central Florida perspective favors theme parks that see casinos as competition, and many House members outside South Florida oppose expanded gambling on moral grounds. Jobs might trump that, but the House should make sure the job figures are real. / Sept. 22, 2011

Massive Miami mega-yacht complex wins final OK

FL - He (May, lobbyist) also said that adding a casino to the property -- which lies just down MacArthur Causeway from Genting Group's Resorts World Miami property -- isn't yet part of plans. If Flagstone does try to add a casino to plans, it -- unlike the Genting plan -- would be subject to commission approval. Flagstone's Island Gardens is a luxury hotel, retail and mega-yacht complex planned for City of Miami-owned land on Watson Island. The project was approved by voters in 2001. / Sept 22, 2011

More questions surface about Lake Worth Beach and Casino project

FL - What were taxpayers promised? What will they be getting from the Lake Worth Beach and Casino project? He (Blackman) had a feeling something wasn't right with the city's planned beach restoration and casino project. His suspicions were confirmed. The Inspector General found errors in how the project was classified and appraised. The Inspector General is now continuing oversight to make sure things are done right. Blackman believes the errors were made intentionally, for political reasons. / 9-22-2011

New econ development agency gets snagged early in gambling

FL - But Darling's commitment immediately came under fire from Rep. Mike Horner, R-Kissimmee, a avid gambling opponent. "I don't think anyone wants us to do a study on things that are prohibited,'' he said. "I think there are enormous social costs in those decisions. I'd hate to see your agency (Department of Economic Development) become a pawn on casino gambling debate...To me, expanding gambling is not economic development." / September 21, 2011

No Casinos group re-emerges to fight new legislation

FL - John Sowinski, an Orlando-based public relations consultant and president of the "No Casinos Inc.," activated the dormant organization late last week as legislators announced they are drafting a bill to offer three Las Vegas-style casino licenses in Miami Dade and Broward as part of a push to bring resort-style casinos to Florida. This year, No Casinos will partner with law enforcement, faith-based organizations and business groups to oppose the legislation, "We will remind Republicans who count on the votes of conservative Republicans that you can't be pro-families and pro-gambling at the same time,'' he said. / Sep. 20, 2011

No Casinos group resurrects amid gambling legislation

FL - This year, No Casinos will partner with law enforcement, faith-based organizations and business groups to oppose the legislation, Sowinski said. Traditionally, Orlando's theme parks, along with Central Florida business organizations, have been a big opponent to the expansion of gambling in Florida. "This is a different battle, in that it's in the Legislature,'' Sowinski said. "But the only chance it has to pass is if people in Tallahassee think they can do it in the dark of night -- without the public paying attention. Our goal is to make sure it gets attention.'' Sowinski said his group will appeal to legislators of both parties. In addition to Sowinski, the group is headed by Paul Seago of the Apopka Chamber of Commerce -- who worked on the 2004 effort -- and Adam McKinnon, whose grandmother is former U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins... A long-time gambling opponent. / September 20, 2011

Palm Coast may extend Internet cafe moratorium

FL - If the Palm Coast City Council decides to extend its ban on new Internet cafes for another six months, it's a safe bet the city won't be sued. That's according to City Attorney William Reischmann, who said during a recent workshop that moratoriums are legally safe for up to one year. Extending the moratorium would give the city more time to see if the state Legislature enacts any laws regarding Internet cafes during its next session, Reischmann said. New state laws could guide the city on any restrictions it seeks to impose regarding where and how Internet cafes can operate. Seminole County has declared even existing Internet cafes illegal. / September 19, 2011

Players double down for charity

FL - On Aug. 31, former Miami Dolphins... Players and more than 60 blackjack players raised money for their charities in a one-year anniversary celebration of blackjack coming to Seminole Casino Coconut Creek... During an invitation-only tournament. / September 21, 2011

Reconsider casino plans

FL - Let's face it, the place looks strikingly similar to Biff's Casino in "Back to the Future: Part II." Crime is already a problem in Miami, do you think this will help the situation? / September 24, 2011

Supposed Tea Party Leaders Support Resorts World Miami Casino

FL - Two Tea Party leaders in the area, which neither appear to be very powerful, have voiced their public support for Genting's Resorts World Miami project... Including its casino. This, despite the fact banning gambling was a major plank of the religious right's agenda. Thorne says her group has 23,000 members, but its website <> lists no other officers. A Google search on Thorne also reveals little previous activity in the Tea Party. In fact, the largest section of their website is a page supporting the casino. Very curious. Why or how this woman decided to speak for the entire Tea Party, we're not entirely sure. Everett Wilkinson, president of the South Florida Tea Party, also released a statement in support of the project. He has a bit more history as a Tea Party gadfly... / Sep. 21 2011

Volusia County leaders keeping eye on Miami casino push

FL - Volusia's lobbyists will be monitoring the status of the bill, which appears to be on a fast track. Last week, Senate President Mike Haridopolos removed an outspoken casino opponent from the committee that will get first crack at the proposal, and then added its sponsor, Fort Lauderdale Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff, as a replacement. A key issue in Florida's casino future lies in the courts. A constitutional amendment approved in 2004 allowed slot machines only at certain tracks and jai alai venues in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. But an excluded race track in Hialeah (in Miami-Dade County) is arguing in the 1st District Court of Appeals that state lawmakers should have the power to allow casinos anywhere they see fit. That argument is likely to end up in the state Supreme Court. Sowinski's (No Casinos) argument rests on the ancillary costs of gambling -- it's a drain on surrounding businesses, he argues, and causes crime to spike. The economic and public-safety costs, in his view, outweigh any gains in jobs and tax revenue. And he believes opening one part of Florida to a casino opens the rest of the state to others. / September 22, 2011

Woman Admits to Stealing $200,000 from Apt. Complex

FL - Police say Sheryl Dawn Detrick, 36, admitted to the South Point Place Apartments owners that she took the money by setting up a phantom account. She said she had a gambling problem. / Sep 23, 2011

Wynn Scouting Florida Locations

FL - Kim Sinatra, general counsel for casino magnate Steve Wynn, has been scouting casino locations in Florida. / Sept 21, 2011