MIAMI - Expansion. Say it with me now. Expaaaaaansion. It almost sounds like what it means. And here is the dictionary definition: [ik-span'-shuhn] "... enlarged portion or form of a thing".
I didn't really need to look it up. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing something, seeing as the entire reason behind some Florida lawmakers' efforts to pave the way for the mother of all casinos on Miami's bayfront is to "prevent the expansion" of gambling in Florida.
Is it me? Or does that make no sense?
It's a reporter's job to maintain a fair and objective position on every issue, including this biggie.
It's also a reporter's job to shine the spotlight on hypocrisy, double-talk and outright untruths.
So when the same lawmakers (and some of those now getting paid to grease them) who were righteously, indignantly against every sort of gambling interest in this state's history are now actively trying to change the rules to get them in, well, can we get that spotlight over here, please?
Not only will the destination gambling bill as it stands NOT prevent the expansion of gambling in Florida, it will trip the mechanisms for it.
How? Well, besides the obvious, the addition of Genting Group's largest casino on the planet, the Seminole Tribe of Florida across town will be able to expand the moment the bill becomes law. Federal law allows Native American Tribes to offer at their casinos whatever state law allows at non-Tribal casinos. And any additional games (ie expansion) would remain tax-free for the Tribe. The State of Florida gets nothing. (Worth bringing up here, the Seminole Tribe's exclusivity compact that would be crashed with the addition of any new casino. Page 39 of it stipulates their billion dollar payment due the state would stop the moment newly authorized gaming begins).
So that's just for starters.
New mega-casinos and expanded Tribal gambling will have the local parimutuels (again) crying foul, and rightfully so. What will lawmakers to to take care of those local businesses?
Do you see where I'm going with this?
Community groups, homeowners associations, business organizations, politicians, urban planners, maybe even you are all starting to frame opinions and positions about whether a foreign-owned, flush-with-money, bigger-than-anything casino corporation is good or not for the direction of our community.
As that happens, you may find the need to consult a dictionary.
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