Sheldon Makes his Move!





Rarely in Florida
history has a piece of legislation been so crafted to benefit a specific special
interest as has Sen. Dennis Jones’ “Destination Resort” casino gambling

S.B. 1708 was
designed to help Sheldon Adelson and Las Vegas Sands, who are now under federal
investigation for bribing officials in Macao to speed up approval of $1 billion
worth of condos in their gaming complex in the Chinese State. Probes by the DOJ
and SEC were announced last week.

The designation of
five “regions” throughout the state is a move by Adelson, who is looking at
several Miami sites, to block the Fountainbleau on Miami Beach and the Diplomat
in Hallandale from operating casinos.

The requirements –
a $50 million licensing fee, a $1 million non-refundable application fee, the
commitment of Convention Center space, and a 1000 room hotel – would shut out
Adelson’s less well-heeled competitors.

Adelson spent more
then a $2 million in Republican political contributions, inaugural
contributions, and lobbyists to get “his” bill.

Both Governor Rick
Scott and Senate President Mike Haridopolos insist that any bill being
contemplated include a local county referendum for expansion of

Senate President
Mike Haridopolos has said there is a 50-50 chance of the bill coming to the
floor. The huge capital requirements and “regions” in the bill are not likely to
survive without major amendment. The Broward delegation will see to

The pari-mutuel
lobbyists will fight the bill as written since there is no expansion of games to
their facilities in the bill. Adelson and his lobbyist Andy Abboud have been
adamant about the pari-mutuels not being included in some kind of compromise
bill. Abboud told Hialeah City officials the tracks would not benefit under the
LVS plan.

Struggling home
builder Art Falcone is now in discussions with Phil Ruffin, owner of the
legendary Frontier Casino in Las Vegas. Falcone is pushing a downtown site that
is a field of weeds and homeless junkies today.

Falcone wants a
huge payout for the land and percentage of the casino revenues, a deal that the
Las Vegas Sands passed on. Sands’ lawyers doubt Falcone can get a gaming
license. Adelson told a gaming reporter he would buy Falcone’s land after banks
foreclose on it for the second time.

Hovering over this
casino mania is a lawsuit, which is on appeal that challenges the state’s rights
to put slot machines at any location under the language of a 2002 constitutional
amendment that specifically gave that right to certain Miami-Dade and Broward

No one disputes
the right of the legislature and Governor to put table games at any location but
a bar on slots would make the economics of these “Destination Resort” casinos

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