$300 million Estimated proceeds from internet cafés involved in federal and state investigation that led to 57 arrest warrants and the closure of 49 "gambling" locations on March 13
$4.8 billion Annual sales of Florida Lottery tickets as of 2013; $1.3 billion of which goes to education
$25 billion Estimated net worth of Las Vegas casino magnate – and frequent Republican donor – Sheldon Adelson in 2013
"Lt. Gov. Carroll resigned in an effort to keep her former affiliation with the company from distracting from the administration's important work on behalf of Florida families." – Gov. Rick Scott's chief of staff, Adam Hollingsworth, in a statement Sources: Forbes, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
That white puff of smoke you saw last week? It wasn't necessarily a sign of the new Jesuit papacy. If you were in Florida, it could have been the result of the friction created by the pearls being clutched when Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll abruptly issued her resignation on March 12. The horror!
Carroll, who is famous for once saying that she is prettier than a lesbian with whom she allegedly bumped naughties or something, was facing heat from an extensive Florida Department of Law Enforcement probe into so-called Internet cafés. More than a thousand pages of affidavits ended up being released on March 13, many of them pointing in the general direction of a "charity" called Allied Veterans of the World, for whom Carroll did some consulting work. A few years back, she proposed legislation she was effectively paid to write in favor of Internet cafés (before calling it an accident and retracting it). Anyway, she's a genius and in no way shady at all.
The aftershocks of the incident, however, have been dizzyingly absurd, with pundits projecting total ethical devastation and politicians running for their self-righteous capes. The political theater that is Tallahassee is on fire, and everybody's screaming about it.
Because Allied is but one of the companies involved in this expansive Internet gaming web, it's hard to assess the breadth of the political implications. For the past few years, the companies have been funneling money through electioneering campaigns and direct donations for both Democrats and Republicans, with Allied fronting approximately $2 million to advance its cause. Even though Allied asserted that 70 percent of its income was funneled back into charities for former soldiers, investigators found that only 2 percent ($6 million) was actually being put to good use. The rest was buying favors and mansions and hookers and blow. Florida is awesome.
Legislators immediately fast-tracked a bill that was originally intended to quell the explosion of Internet cafés via a moratorium on new establishments – changing the language to criminalize the whole shebang – and pushed it through a House committee on March 15. The Senate quickly followed suit. And representatives from both the Florida Democratic Party and the Republican Party of Florida issued statements that they would be scouring their donor rolls to see what ill-gotten gains they'd be shoveling back into veterans charities.
But here's our own two-penny slot on this: Maybe gambling is illegal in Florida and that sweepstakes loophole should be closed. Let's not pretend, however, that the gambling lobby hasn't been spending $5 million a year trying legalize casinos in Florida, or that the Seminole Tribe of Florida already makes substantial bank off the bad decision making of slots players. Also, the lottery is kind of like gambling, too, isn't it? And even though those proceeds "go to education," it's no secret that they also go to filling holes in a state budget that exists almost exclusively to reward risk-taking corporations via tax breaks and incentives for speculative business development. Some of those businesses, like our own arena-naming Amway, have existed as pyramid schemes for decades. So pardon us if we're not quite as outraged as everybody else seems to be. In Florida, everything is a gamble.