The state of Florida has long been a target of Las Vegas gaming companies. Full-scale casino resorts in the Sunshine State would be the jackpot for the gaming companies who are currently experiencing tough economic times in Sin City.
One of the first things that Governor Rick Scott did after being elected to his position last November was to meet with Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson. The governor claims it was not to discuss casino resorts in Florida, but few believe Adelson was simply hanging out with the governor.
This week, the Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee will hold a hearing on gambling expansion. Lawmakers in the Senate have already began drafting legislation that would bring casino resorts to Florida, and if approved, the legislation would signal a change in procedure in the state.
Republican leaders have long opposed gambling expansion. When former Governor Charlie Crist reached a compact agreement with the Seminole Indians, Conservative lawmakers such as Marco Rubio led the charge in vetoing the compact. Eventually, lawmakers worked out a deal and the Seminoles received their expanded gambling.
While some legislators want more gambling, others want to eliminate some forms of gaming in the state. Representative Scott Plakon wants to eliminate so-called sweepstakes cafes. Internet cafes have become popular among senior citizens. The cafes allow customers to buy Internet time and then use that time to play slot-like games on computers. Prizes are given out to winners.
South Beach was originally thought to be the ideal place for casino resorts if the Las Vegas companies were allowed to develop casinos in Florida. Miami-Dade officials, however, have been less than enthusiastic about casino resorts in their jurisdiction.
That has left the door open for Fort Lauderdale and other counties throughout the state to become the leading options for major gaming expansion.