Casino Bill Escapes Fiscal Examination
Florida Tea Party leaders have grave concerns about the fiscal impact of
three bills on destination resort casinos – S1708 by Senator Dennis
Jones, S2050 by Senator Oscar Braynon, and H1415
by Rep. Eric Fresen – now pending in the
legislature. None of these bills has ever been to revenue estimating or has any
fiscal analysis attached.The bill by Senator Dennis Jones was written by high-priced lobbyists for the
embattled Las Vegas Sands Corporation, now
under federal investigation for bribing public officials in Macao. It provides
for only one casino in Miami-Dade and would also require casino developers to
build a 1,000 room hotel and convention center space.
Yet the Jones bill is not scheduled to be heard in Jones’ own committee,
Regulated Industries. There has never in the history of gambling in Florida been
a bill dealing with gaming that was not first heard in Regulated Industries.
These casino bills are skipping the committee entirely, having been referred
to the Commerce and Tourism Committee by Senate President Mike
The word gaming appears in Jones bill 201 times and on 82 pages out of 82
total pages in the bill, which would authorize the state to open five
mega-casinos, but this is not a gaming bill, according to Jones and
Perhaps more concerning, however, is Senator Jones misreading of the Seminole
compact and the reality that Tea Party and conservative actvists believe the
bill could end the financial support of the Seminole Tribe to the State of
The Semioles are guaranteed to pay the state hundreds of millions as long as
no other form of casino gambling is legalized. These three bills would thus cost
Florida billions in guaranteed revenue for the next 20 years.
The Seminole compact states that the payments shall cease “when the newly authorized gaming (casinos) begins to be offered for public or private use.” However, the compact is only a five-year compact as it relates to the banked card games.
It is a 20-year compact when it comes to slot revenue with the Seminoles
obligated to pay the state for that entire period. However, if there is an
authorization of gaming at new locations beyond the voter approved pari-mutuels
all payments stop.
“If Mike Haridopolos passes this budget busting bill it will follow him
around in the U.S. Senate Primary,” South Florida Tea Party leader
Everett Wilkinson told the Clarion. “Haridpolos cannot run as a
fiscal conservative if he allows this bill to become law.”