Gambling Bill Would Approve 2 South Florida Casinos and Create Gaming Commission


A Gaming Commission Would Oversee the LVS and Genting Casinos in South Florida

If a bill submitted to the Florida legislature on Monday is approved, South Florida would receive two casino licenses, while a Florida Gaming Commission would be created to administer gambling activities in the state. The bill, which would be a landmark in Florida gaming history, also would allow the state’s dog tracks to continue offering slot machine gaming, while suspending live racing at their tracks.

In effect, the state’s racetracks would become slots parlors, while the Miami are would receive two destination resorts with operating casinos. Such a development would change the landscape for Florida gaming interests, especially the Seminole Tribe, which has dominated the scene for many years.

Dana Young Filed the Gaming Bill

The legislation was filed by Rep. Dana Young, a Tampa representative who leads the House Republican caucus. The Florida legislature opens its annual session on Tuesday, March 3.

Amendment Ends Gambling Expansion

The bill includes a passage which calls for an amendment to the Florida Constitution. The amendment would prohibit any new gambling in Florida, including new forms of gambling or adding to the existing forms of gambling in the state, unless such additions were approved through statewide vote.

The amendment passage is thought to be a sop to social conservatives and anti-gambling advocates, who are concerned that the latest bill might begin a ride down a slippery slope of gambling proliferation. In other states, gambling has expanded at a steady rate, so much so that the American northeast is now said to be saturated with gambling interests.

Disney Corporation against Casinos

Social conservatives and religious groups are not the only anti-gaming interests in the state of Florida. The Disney Corporation has long been a staunch opponent of gambling in South Florida, or anywhere else in the state, for that matter. Disney argues that the state is known worldwide for family-oriented tourism and the inclusion of big brand casino resorts will damage the state’s traditional tourism brand.

Las Vegas Sands in South Floria

The two big winners in any casino gambling expansion are two rather large corporations themselves: the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and the Genting Group. The Las Vegas Sands was a second-tier Las Vegas gaming company until just over 10 years ago, when LVS founder Sheldon Adelson gambled on building a casino in the swamplands of Macau, China.

A decade later, that casino the Venetian Macau, the largest gaming resort in the world. The Sands Corporation has added the Sands Macau to its Chinese gambling empire, making LVS Corp the most lucrative casino company of the 21st century. It is a big player to receive one of the two Miami casino gaming licenses.

Resorts World Miami

Genting Limited Group is itself a massive multinational conglomerate. The Malaysian leisure and entertainment company also owns rubber plantations and offshore oil assets in Southeast Asia, and has several times been listed as one of Asia’s Top 10 corporations.

Genting is currently building a $4.2 billion resort-casino on the Las Vegas Strip, called Resorts World Las Vegas, which would be the most expensive resort ever built in Sin City. Genting also spent nearly $250 million in 2012 to buy the Miami Tribune Building. That property is expected to be the site of Resorts World Miami, if Dana Young’s gaming bill passes the legislature and is signed into law by Governor Rick Scott.

Seminole Casinos Not Mentioned

Nowhere in the 332-page bill is the Seminole Tribe mentioned. The Seminoles currently have a contract which gives them an exclusive right to offer blackjack to gamblers in Florida. That right is carried out at the Tampa Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, as well as other tribal gaming enclaves around the state.

The Seminole Compact is currently up for negotiation, because the current 5-year deal is set to end on July 31. The absence of the Seminoles in the legislation could be seen as a negotiating ploy, to get the tribe to back down from its traditional monopoly and sign on to the plan to allow gaming interests into the state, in exchange for protection for its own traditional gaming interests in the state. Essentially, such a plan would yield South Florida to the national and international gaming companies, while allowing the Seminoles to control Tampa and other select locations around the state.