The long anticipated 2015 gaming bill has emerged from the Florida House. It is a whopper of a bill. It certainly delivers something for everyone. Three hundred plus pages of well written and well thought out ideas that should make the majority of the industry, both pro and anti-gaming, both in and out of South Florida happy. The problem is this industry won’t see the many layers of good, they will see the specks of bad.
This bill protects the Disney conventions from being poached to South Florida. It gives the Seminoles a shot at destination resorts, with only two being offered. It is expansion by contraction as it requires destination resorts to purchase existing pari-mutuel permits and then trade them in as part of the process to secure a destination license. It is truly the best work product concerning gaming to ever come out of Tallahassee.
It ends the requirement to conduct dog racing. It also freezes everyone at the current status-quo until the first destination resort is up and running and paying the state a minimum of 175 million dollars a year in taxes.
This is a bill that should pass the Legislature. This is a bill that would pass the Legislature if the voters were as savvy as the drafters. This is a bill, however, that will fail under its own weight and succumb to the whims of an uneducated few that will make the few unappealing crumbs a bigger issue than the well baked and finely decorated cake. A bill whose time has come will go and Florida’s gaming and tourism industry will be worse off.