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Report commissioned by state says Orlando doesn’t need more gambling

Says expanded gambling could threaten family-friendly reputation of our tourist town




Remember when things got all confusing last year because you weren’t sure whether you thought gambling was a good idea for Orlando or Miami (all-night parties, booze, free speech) or a bad one (creepy business interests, crime, Apocalypse)? Well, according to the Miami Herald, the legislature commissioned a detailed analysis on the potentialities and, on Monday, that report came back with a big old “NO!” stamp on it. Though, in politics, no doesn’t always mean no.

Even though the legislature paid $388,000 to have the Spectrum Gaming Group drum up phrases like “a circular firing squad” devoid of regulation for the state’s current pseudo-gambling, pari-mutuel world, lawmakers aren’t exactly writing the idea of destination gambling off. They’re just using the report as a blueprint, really, or a collection of benign suggestions.

Florida’s bottom-feeding gambling system has been suffering a long death under current rules, as we’ve illustrated in this week’s jai alai cover story. You’re not really gambling if you’re gambling at a dog track, right? Oh, and let’s not forget the Internet café saga that saw the state’s lieutenant governor have to creep away in disgust earlier this year. We do have a problem, anonymously.

But you’ll also recall that the big gambling interests who were foiled in their proposals for destination gambling resorts last year – Genting and Las Vegas Sands – have deep political pockets. By this time last year, Genting alone had spent $1.3 million in political donations – more to Republicans than Democrats – to further its queen-of-hearts crusade, according to the Herald. So the state has to be careful about how it handles the gambling issue, clearly.

The most interesting part of the report, at least for us, is its focus on Orlando and the potential of the City Beautiful becoming tarnished as a tourist hub by the introduction of sin. Mayor Buddy Dyer came out against casino expansion in 2011, about the same time that Disney was clicking its chastity belt. The report only backs up that notion, saying that because Orlando already does so well with tourists and conventions without offering gambling, there’s a possibility that the family-friendly notion of the region is part of the reason for its success.

Our hookers are less obvious than those in Vegas, apparently.


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