More on Casino Debate and Job Creation in Florida

We’ve written previously about the debate in Florida surrounding destination casinos.  Although the full legislature begins its session tomorrow, the Senate Regulated Industries Committee is meeting today to consider the casino issue in the form of bill SB710.

The Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce recently broke with the state chamber and announced its public support, while National Federation of Independent Business released a poll showing plurality of small business owners support the plan.  Penny Shafer, chair of the Miami Chamber, underscored the collateral benefits and increasing tourism that would result from the enactment of the resorts.   The Chamber clearly understands that a potential $6 billion investment in the area and enticing millions of new visitors to Florida will stimulate the private sector, revitalize the job market, and bring relief to hard-hit areas of the state.

In addition, the Associated Builders and Contractors, Florida Carpenters Regional Council, Florida Concrete & Products Association, Hollywood Limousine, and the Florida Retired Workers Association have expressed their support for the benefits that the resorts may bring, addressing the economic needs of the state.

The growing support for the resorts by these business groups stands in contrast to others who have expressed opposition:  Disney (which we’ve written about before), the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) and the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA).

Three years ago, both the FRF and FRLA praised the economic benefits the Seminole compact.  More recently, however, they each strongly denounced destination resorts.  Hard Rock International sits on the FRF board of directors and is owned by the Seminole tribe, which presides over a monopoly on the state’s gaming.  In addition, the Seminole Hard Rock has seats on the boards of the Broward and Hillsborough FRLA.

While there may be reasons to their opposition beyond board involvement, none of the opposing groups have put forward any proposal that holds as much promise for growing employment and the economy as the destination resorts.   As taxpayers and policymakers across the state dig more into the issue, they would be wise to focus on concrete measures that focus on creating jobs and economic growth in the region.