In the first Senate hearing on a proposal to allow up to three luxury casinos in South Florida, executives from some of the biggest casino companies in the world told lawmakers their proposals would bring thousands of jobs and better regulation to the gambling industry in Florida. But executives from the pari-mutuel industry say they are unhappy that they would have to pay a higher tax rate than the proposed “destination resort” casinos and said it would put existing casinos out of business. Bill sponsors also acknowledged that the way the bill is written, it could allow upstate counties, such as Gadsden, to host their own destination resorts, even though the measure has been billed as aimed exclusively at South Florida. But because the bill requires a minimum investment of $2 billion, stakeholders said they doubted other counties could support that type of investment. Alan Feldman, senior vice president of MGM Resorts, said he held a meeting in Jacksonville to determine if a destination resort could be built there. “There would be opportunity for this across the state of Florida if the bill was structured differently,” Feldman said. “At $2 billion, this is a South Florida bill.” There was no vote at Wednesday’s “workshop” on the topic.
Here is a round-up of media coverage of this issue: