Florida Casino Plan Clears First Hurdle With Senate Panel
Florida (STOFL1) would become the most populous state with full casino gambling outside American Indian control under a proposal that cleared its first legislative hurdle today.
The vote in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee would allow the fourth-largest state by population to have as many as three Las Vegas-style casinos, with dealers and table games in addition to slot machines.
“This is the beginning of the discussion,” Republican Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, the bill sponsor, said during the hearing at the state Capitol in Tallahassee.
The decision was a win for Malaysia’s Genting Bhd. (GENT), which controls Asia’s second-biggest casino company by market value. Kuala Lumpur-based Genting has pitched lawmakers on a $3.8 billion casino-and-hotel complex on Miami’s Biscayne Bay as an antidote to the state’s 10 percent unemployment (USUSFLA) rate in November, ahead of the national rate of 8.7 percent. Genting also has plans to build the biggest convention center in the U.S., in New York City.
The Florida measure is opposed by the Walt Disney Co. (DIS), the world’s biggest theme-park company, whose flagship Walt Disney World is near Orlando. Hoteliers, restaurant owners and betting parlors who say they’ll lose business to destination casinos also are lobbying against the bill.
Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who took office last year, hasn’t signaled whether he supports the plan. His insistence that any county that wants to land one of the resorts first get voter approval was included in a rewrite of the bill last week.
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael C. Bender in Tallahassee at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at email@example.com
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