Florida divided on impact of Vegas style casinos

Everyone has an opinion on the question of Las Vegas style casinos in our community’s future. Voters, surveyed statewide, are pretty much evenly divided on the question. Central and North Florida are slightly against major casinos. South Florida, especially Southeast Florida, favors the idea.

Our state laws must be changed before Vegas style casinos can come to Florida. The question is should the Florida Legislature consider the question or should it be through a public referendum?

One thing almost everyone agrees upon is that our legislature would vote on casino approval looking for additional revenue for the state. Voters would be voting on how casinos would impact our community and our way of life in the future. Florida’s voters should make that decision.

Many in our community still are angry over taxpayers building a baseball stadium for the Marlins. Most feel that approval or rejection on such major issues should be made by Miami-Dade voters, not the members of the Miami- Dade County Commission or our elected officials in the state capital. After all we must live with the results of our election decisions.

There are excellent arguments for and against the question. The owners of “local” casinos that we have permitted at our dog and horse racetracks and now at local jaialai are concerned about losing customers to the “big” glamorous establishments. Will they lose the little gambler is a good question. Perhaps with the big minimum bets the small dollar gambler will stay at the local casino.

Hotel owners are concerned that the “big” spenders no longer will stay at the hotels on the beach, opting for the hotel/casino where they literally can roll out of bed and hit the tables. Others think that the casinos will bring a different type of high roller, who didn’t come to Florida before, but will now come and stay for the glitz of what was once limited to Las Vegas.

Many in our community look to the casino as a source of adding employment. In addition to the many minimum wage jobs there will be higher salaried positions such as floor managers, chiefs, accountants, etc. The hope is that the better paying jobs will not be held by out-of-towners brought in for the positions.

Ask suppliers that will deliver tons of food, alcohol, laundry soap, suntan lotion to the casinos’ back doors and they will unanimously say “yes!”

Ask law enforcement officers and they will be divided between more drunks to handle and opportunities for more police positions.

Ask cab drivers and they will be overjoyed at the prospect of hauling gamblers to the casinos, to dinner, to the beach, and finally back to the airport to return north or travel home overseas.

Whatever your opinion there is unanimity of opinion that Florida’s voters make the final decision — “yes” or “no.” Almost all agree that if approved it should contain a county option. More than likely the residents of Southeast Florida will say “yes” looking for jobs and increased income. Perhaps the voters of Orange County (Orlando) will say “no” to protect their image as a family vacation destination.

We should not turn our backs on change. However we should make certain that change will improve our community and make it a better place to live and raise our families. Once we have heard both sides of the debate, asked questions, discussed the options then we should be ready to make a decision, ether by our vote through a public referendum or by influencing our legislators in Tallahassee.

We appreciate your opinions on this column whether in agreement or disagreement. Please send your comments to (fax number) 305-662-6980 or email to letters@ communitynewspapers.com. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of this newspaper,

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