Florida’s legislature heard from some of the biggest companies in gaming on how casinos figure to impact the Sunshine State’s economy. Not surprisingly, they accentuated the positive, and then some.
The occasion was a legislative workshop held last month on gaming bills HB 487 and SB 710 that would bring three new full-scale casino resorts, costing $2 billion each and paying a 10 percent tax rate, to South Florida. Colin Au, president of Genting, predicted 100,000 new jobs and the start of Genting-subsidized direct flights from several major Asian cities to Miami, according to the Sun Sentinel. He estimated that three resorts would generate $1.7 billion in taxes and lower unemployment payments for the state and bring 4 million to 6 million new visitors to South Florida.
“We’re spreading the cake all over the place,” said Au said. “They’re going to go to Orlando, they’re going to visit Disney Land (sic).”
The Sentinel also reported that Las Vegas Sands vice president Andy Abboud stressed jobs, plus a possible expansion into Florida of his company’s charities, which he said have given millions to medical research and drug clinics, plus support for cultural causes. And Wynn Resorts lobbyist Michael Britt, after detailing the economic positives as well, noted that his company’s top recent legislative priority in Nevada has been education, with board director Elaine Wynn serving as the national chairwoman of Communities in Schools.
Genting has already announced plans to build a $3.8 billion resort, and the world’s largest casino, on waterfront property now occupied by The Miami Herald building on Biscayne Bay. Sands and Wynn are looking at locations in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Lawmakers also heard from a broad range of opponents to the proposed legislation, including Donn Mitchell, chief administrative officer for Isle of Capri Casino & Racing in Pompano Beach. Pompano and other racetrack gaming facilities are limited to slot machines and poker rooms, cannot offer live table games and are taxed at 35 percent. Without parity, Mitchell said, “frankly, [the bill] challenges our very existence in the future.”