Mixed Reviews on "Destination Resort Casino" Bill

By: Meagan O'Halloran Email
By: Meagan O'Halloran Email

Okaloosa and Walton county officials are evaluating how the possibility of casinos in South Florida would impact them.

The Destin Area Chamber of Commerce has already approved a resolution against the destination resort casino bill, while the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Walton county is exploring its options if the bill passes.

The Destin Area Chamber of Commerce has taken a stand for small business owners. They believe that "destination casinos" will be detrimental to the way of life on the Emerald Coast.

"We're concerned about the devastating effects that a casino would have on our reputation as a world class family-friendly destination" said Chamber Chairman Bill Lindsley.

According to the Chamber's research, they believe small businesses will suffer setbacks if casinos came to town. They unanimously passed a resolution against the proposed bill in November.

"Forty-percent of local businesses fail after the introduction of casinos in a tourism economy and that's not something we're comfortable with" added Lindsley.

But independent casino marketing representative Michael McIntosh believes if the cards are played right, it's a risk worth taking.

"You need something year-round to draw in money from some other state---hey, a casino will do it."

In comparing the Emerald Coast to other gambling towns, McIntosh thinks casinos would only add to an already attractive destination, especially during the off-season.

"When you have walked out the door of a casino in Biloxi, you've done just that, you're out the door; But in this town if you leave the casino, you have the beaches, you have the entertainment, you have the festivals, you have all those little goodies you can go to. It's not like you have to stay in a building all day long" added McIntosh.

The Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort Owner's Association is holding a private town hall meeting next week to weigh the pro's and con's.

The 2012 legislative session begins next Tuesday and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle will discuss the proposed bill and it's expected to be a controversial one.


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