Gambling to expand in Florida?
The Seminole tribe of Florida stands to make billions of dollars if Gov. Crist agrees to expand gambling in the state, bringing popular games like roulette and blackjack to casinos on Indian land. Crist would allow the expansion in exchange for a slice of the profits the additional games would bring–perhaps a solution to the state’s crippling rates for property taxes and homeowners insurance.
Under current Florida laws, only certain slot machines and poker games are allowed in casinos. Gambling is restricted to certain state lands, usually sovereign Indian territory. Full-service casinos are only legal once gamblers leave the state on ships and head into international waters, on short day cruises or trips to the Bahamas or the Caribbean. This means the state literally watches gambling revenue float away, money that could be applied to government programs.
It’s perhaps an interesting coincidence that only a few weeks ago, the Seminole tribe purchased the Hard Rock chain, including rights to Hard Rock restaurants and casinos. The purchase provides a strong incentive for Gov. Crist to relax the state’s gambling regulations, by dispelling the image of casinos as targeting low-income gamblers. Should Gov. Crist allow the gambling expansion, Hard Rock casinos would undoubtedly explode throughout Florida, and their locations in Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale and Tampa would expand (in fact, there are already plans to build a second hotel tower at the Hollywood casino, due to heavy demand for rooms). This would bring in billions of dollars in revenue, with the State of Florida receiving a portion of the proceeds through gambling taxes.