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Guest Op/Ed: Florida's Flawed Casino Policy Costs Jobs and Revenue

Published Friday, July 8, 2011 2:00 am

As a business owner here in Manatee County I have been attending trade shows in Vegas for over 30 years and have always been impressed with the clean growth that I have seen there.

For years we Floridians have been arguing the Pros and Cons of allowing Casino Gambling in Florida! In the mean time it has managed to get here without us or our Vote!!

If legalized, Casino Gambling would immediately have a positive financial impact!! Most larger Hotels & Resorts already have space they can convert into Gaming Rooms or install Video Poker & Slot Machines. Almost over night thousands of new jobs would be created.

New Companies that support & service the gaming industry would open up or relocate here and tens of thousands of new "Long Term" jobs would be created for Floridian's of all ages!! Real-estate prices would go up, Taxes could be lowered and the Housing market would rebound!!

This is "Not a Easy Task" because the "Privileged Few" that already have Gaming License have Millions of Dollars & Dozens of highly paid lobbyist in Tallahassee & Washington that will do everything within their power to protect their "Monopoly" on Casino Gambling here in Florida!! 

SOMETHING THAT GOT MY ATTENTION:

Several years ago when I went to Shreveport for business I was surprised to see a brand new Airport that was just as nice as Orlando's! Not as big, but just as attractive. When I ask the cab driver about it he said! "Its because of the River Boats"!! When I told him that in Florida it had been voted down twice because of worries about crime!!

His reply was "Crime"!! We have no crime!! We have almost Zero Unemployment!! Our Police and Fire Departments are better equipped than ever before!! Most of our streets are now paved and well lit! Our Schools & Hospitals have been upgraded with the best equipment!! & Taxes have been lowered!!

"These River Boats have been the best thing that has ever happened too Shreveport"!!

As you know "We Already have Casino Gambling"!! Why not let everyone benefit from legalized gambling!! Not just a privileged few!!
With Governors Scott's pro business approach for Florida we may have an opportunity to finally make this happen!!

Below in is the response I received from our New Governors office telling us what we can do to influence our legislators into supporting expanding Casino Gambling here in Florida.


Dear Mr. Cundiff:

Thank you for contacting Governor Rick Scott.  The Governor asked that I respond on his behalf.

As a concerned citizen, you have the opportunity to influence legislation on the expansion of gaming in Florida by contacting your local legislative delegation.  You may wish to write to your senator or representative.  The Division of Legislative Information Services is a helpful resource for information on legislation.  That office can be contacted in writing at 111 West Madison Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1400 or by calling toll-free (800) 342-1827.  Those with internet access can find contact information for their legislators and track bills as they proceed through the legislative process at www.leg.state.fl.us.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact Governor Scott.

Sincerely,

Warren Davis
Office of Citizen Services


Facts:

In 2008, the commercial casino industry had GGR of more than $32 billion & paid over $14 billion in wages and benefits and more than $5.6 billion in taxes, plus other expenses.

That couldn't be more true than it is now with the recent results of a micro-economic impact study of three gaming jurisdictions conducted by the prestigious international accounting firm Arthur Anderson.

The study, "Economic Impacts of Gaming in the United States, Volume 2: Micro Study," reveals the positive economic impact that gaming has had in three US. jurisdictions where gaming has been operational since 1992--Joliet, Ill.; Shreveport/Bossier City, LA.; and Gulfport/Biloxi, MISS. It is the second part of an Arthur Anderson study released in December 1996, "Economic Impacts of Gaming in the United States, Volume 1: Macro Study," which examines the economic impacts of casino gaming on the economy of the entire United States.

Casino gaming has had a significant positive economic impact in the three regions studied, a finding that is consistent with economic reports from other new casino jurisdictions. All three areas experienced the creation of thousands of new jobs that pay above the state averages and employ a larger proportion of minorities and women than do other employers in the regions. On average in the three jurisdictions studied, the tax-to-wage ratio was 60 cents paid in state and local taxes for every $1 paid in wages. These revenues have gone to pay for community services and played an extremely important part of each city's budget. The number of people on public assistance, such as welfare, Aid for Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) and food stamps has dropped dramatically in all three jurisdictions, as well. And finally, in each jurisdiction, the introductions of casinos has led to growth in other areas, such as retail sales, commercial and new housing construction and restaurants. The following sampling of statistics speaks for itself:

===============================================================================

Biloxi/Gulfport, Mississippi

In 1996, approximately 35 percent of those employed by the 10 casinos in the area were minorities, while minorities held only 22 percent of the jobs in the Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).

Sixty-two percent (11,200) of the 18,100 jobs created in the area since 1990 were created by casinos.

Women held approximately 60 percent of the area's casino jobs in 1996.

Harrison County retail sales tax collections rose from $79.1 million in 1992 to $130.3 million in 1995.

The number of AFDC recipients dropped more than nine percent in 1995 and 15 percent in 1996.

After increasing steadily for many years, the number of food stamp recipients has dropped steadily each      year since 1993.

Casinos paid $76 million in 1996 state and local gaming taxes, up from $68 million in 1995.

 Shreveport/Bossier City, Louisiana

From 1993 to 1996, 56 percent of casino employees in three gaming facilities were African-American or another racial minority.

More than one-half (5,100) of the 10,000 new jobs created in the region between 1993 and 1994 were created by the opening of casinos.

Casinos paid $110 million in 1996 in state and local gaming taxes, up from $99 million in 1995.

AFDC payments dropped 14 percent in 1995 and 15 percent more in 1996.

The number of food stamp recipients dropped by 15 percent in 1996.

In 1994, the year in which the casinos opened, retail sales in Shreveport and Bossier City increased by more than 10 percent, the highest growth rate in 11 years.

===============================================================================

 Joliet, Illinois

In 1995, 21 percent of the employees at the two Joliet casinos were African-American or another minority, and approximately 58 percent were women.

Casinos paid $82 million in 1996 state and local gaming taxes.

Retail sales were $3.2 billion in 1995, up from $2.4 billion in 1992, the year casinos opened.

Unemployment rates dropped from 12 percent in 1992 to nine percent in 1994.

After a steady increase in the first five years of the decade, the number of AFDC recipients has dropped by more than 14 percent since 1994.

The number of food stamp recipients in Will County has dropped 14 percent since 1993.

These findings provide concrete evidence supporting the power of the expanding gaming industry. The focus on specific regions new to the gaming industry gives us solid documentation that enables us to chip away at the half-truths and full lies that too many people believe about our industry. Gaming may not be right for every community--it is not a magic economic silver bullet; however, if made part of a carefully-crafted economic development plan, as in the cases of Joliet, Ill.; Shreveport/Bossier City, LA.; and Gulfport/Biloxi, MISS., gaming can help revitalize communities and allow them to prosper.

===============================================================================
CITY OF SHREVEPORT

Shreveport is now the fastest-growing tourist destination in Louisiana. Riverboat gaming has spurred this increase and changed the face of the Shreveport-Bossier City skyline. Within one mile of Shreveport's downtown are five river-boat casinos which together gross more than $200 million
annually.  Shreveport receives more than $13 million annually in payments from these casinos.
Shreveport does not live on gaming alone.

The area supports more than 6,000 manufacturing, warehousing, medical, technological research, oil and gas, agriculture and other businesses. The largest area employer, Barksdale Air Force Base (whose runways are visible from downtown offices), is the home to the B-52 bomber which has played a large role in every American war in the past 50 years. General Motors has assembled light trucks in the Shreveport area since the early 1980s.

Barksdale Air Force Base is the Shreveport's largest single employer with 9,423 however the Casino industry in Shreveport employes 10,507 & that number is growing every year!

===============================================================================

TAX PAYMENTS - COMMERCIAL CASINOS

In the 12 states with commercial casinos in operation in 2008, casinos contributed $5.66 billion in tax revenue to state and local governments, a 2.2 percent decrease over 2007 data. The revenue from those taxes benefits education, public safety, economic development and infrastructure improvements, among other state and local programs.

2008 Commercial Casino Tax Revenue
________________________________

Colorado           $88.4 million
Illinois                $566.8 million
Indiana              $838.2 million
Iowa                   $324.0 million
Louisiana         $626.3 million
Michigan           $321.6 million
Mississippi       $326.9 million
Missouri            $442.8 million
Nevada             $924.5 million
New Jersey      $426.8 million
Pennsylvania   $766.6 million
South Dakota   $15.4 million
________________________________

TOTAL:   $5.66 billion

In 2010 how much Tax Revenue did our Native American Casinos generate for Florida & how many new non-native american jobs have they created?  

Travis Cundiff   

Small Business Owner

Manatee County

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Non-Facebook Comments:


I am all for it!! It doesn't make sense not to do this!! Not only would it create more jobs for people but it would be an excellent way to keep other Floridians here in our state to gamble. I mean why make them travel out of state to Los Vegas, NV or Biloxi, MS when we need the extra tax dollars here! I believe this would be very beneficial to us with creating more jobs, & increasing our economy.
Posted by K.S. Corbett on July 13, 2011
 

I see this as away to bring in money for our state, jobs for people, and another reason for people to come visit Florida. This really would be a win win situation.
Posted by Jeannie Swilley on July 12, 2011
 

I am bothered by the monopoly that Florida has given the Seminole Indian Tribe for casino gambling in Florida. When I walk in the Hardrock in Tampa, I see thousands of people in there enjoying themselves, but am annoyed that the profits go to an entity/organizatiion that pays no income taxes on it's profits. There should be competition in this, and any businesses in Florida.
Posted by Keith Pittenger, CPA on July 12, 2011
 

We need to keep as many tax dollars here in the state as possible. Why make them fly to Las Vegas or Biloxi or take a cruise just so they can gamble. Make it possible for them to leave their dollars here and create jobs by doing it. Makes sense to me.
Posted by W M ASHLEY on July 12, 2011
 

You already have legalized gambling in the state but the only real casino operations are monopolies without competetion. Competetion will create better services for all that gamble, allow options and attract visitors and locals alike that would normally travel out of state to Biloxi MS or Las Vegas, Tahoe or Reno Nevada. When you have the only "game" in town, the Hard Rock, They do not provide the same level of return, comps (such as free rooms, meals beverages etc) as the other states with multiple casinos in a competive environment. This is why so many people that are going to gamble leave florida to do it, and why we don't attract the alabama, georgia, s carolina, n carolina people here
Posted by gene wade on July 12, 2011
 

I am all for new job opportunities, tax $ for our state...we are a tourist destination...love our visitors who leave $ behind and enjoy our paradise!!!
Posted by michael stokley on July 12, 2011
 

check out the Little River Casino in Manistee, MI. The people employed there are very, very pleased to be working at the casinos. They are payed higher wages than any where else in the area and are have health insurance. Florida should check out this small town and check out the what the people think of the casino.....
Posted by Ed Rychcik on July 10, 2011
 

I believe that legalized gaming would benefit Manatee county and stabilize our economy. Tax revenues would definitely increase and help fund all of our government agencies. I don't think crime would increase, infact, with the added jobs that it would bring, it might decrease.
Posted by Joe Metcalf on July 8, 2011
 

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