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Miami Court Ruling Could Lead to Casinos Statewide

October 10, 2011 | WMFE - A court ruling late last week could mean that large casino resorts are a step closer to reality for at least some parts of Florida. Two South Florida lawmakers say they are planning to introduce bills in the upcoming legislative session that would regulate and encourage gaming. A ruling from a district court judge in Miami would allow more casinos in South Florida without asking voters for their approval.


Republican State Representative Erik Fresen of Miami and State Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, a Republican from Fort Lauderdale, say they will introduce legislation in their respective chambers.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos, a Merritt Island Republican, said he could get behind expanded gaming if it can be shown that it would bring in revenue for the state. Haridopolos promised that if the bill is filed he’ll see to it that it’s heard on the Senate floor.

“If we’re going to have gambling like that why not have a higher class facility with the fancier hotels the amenities that come with it and bring people from the East coast of America.” Haridoplos said. “People go to Las Vegas and it’s in the middle of the desert. You can image where they’d want to go if the destination was the tropical paradise that is Florida.”

Haridopolos said expanded gaming is a good an example how to grow the state’s economy without increasing taxes.

But House Speaker Dean Cannon, a Republican from Winter Park,  said he’s personally opposed the expansion of gambling and said he’s skeptical about the bounty of revenue that promoters of the plan say would start flowing into state coffers.

“I’ve heard arguments for example that if you were to allow destination casinos and then constrict or constrain gambling elsewhere in the state, that that might be a net reduction in the state and that that might increase the financial yield.” Cannon said.

He also said he doesn’t buy into the idea that expanded gambling is a good solution for the state’s economic troubles but he said that doesn’t mean the House won’t hear the bill.

Cannon is not the only one raising some concerns about allowing more gambling in the state. Leaders of the Seminole Tribe aren’t happy with the idea of vendors from out of the state and out of the country infringing on what’s traditionally been their market.

The push for new casinos is also opposed by other gaming centers, such as dog tracks and Jai-Alai frontons. They say the referendum vote that allowed them to install slot machines did not apply to new businesses.

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