State Lawmakers Study Gaming Expansion

It’s a classroom of sorts’ the students: members of the Senate Committee on Gaming, the teachers: lobbyists for some of the largest casinos in the world.

“Let me give you a little bit of numbers to back up what I’m saying,” said Donn Mitchell of Ilse of Capri Casinos.

State lawmakers have promised to spend the year studying gaming, to avoid going all-in on an expansion without all the details.

When ask do you really believe that no legislation will come out of this committee this year, Vice Chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee Maria Sachs responded, “You never know.”

Sachs says the issue needs to be explored in depth. “We as a state need to make sure that we have thoroughly vetted it before we reach any decisions,” said Sachs.

Despite the small odds for gaming legislation this year, mega casino organizers and their opponents aren’t taking any chances. They’re at the state capitol making their cases.

John Sowinski, President of No, isn’t taking anything for granted. “You have to be on guard always. We have to vigilant always because if the other side sees and opportunity they will seize it,” said Sowinski.

It’s not just anti-gaming groups opposing an expansion. The Seminole Indians, which operated seven Florida casinos, are also in opposition.

They worry new mega casinos would cut their profits and they have good reason to be afraid.

Genting Malaysia, the largest casino corporation in the world, spent 300 million dollars for prime land in Miami. Now they just need the go ahead from state lawmakers to build this mega casino.

The Seminole Indian Tribe and state lawmakers reached an agreement in 2009, giving the tribe exclusive rights to Blackjack and other Vegas-style games. The deal expires in two years.