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New Florida legislation for mega casinos

October 27, 2011

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On Wednesday (Oct. 26), legislation was introduced which, if passed, could negatively affect equine racing/breeding interests in Florida, its pari-mutuel racetrack stakeholders, and the economic impact created by the equine industry.
The Destination Resort Act sponsored by Rep. Erik Fresen (R-Miami) and Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale) would provide exclusive full casino licenses to three new destination resorts. These resorts would be taxed at 10%, reportedly among the lowest rates in the US and below the 35% currently paid by pari-mutuel tracks/racinos.
The legislation would also replace the Department of Pari-Mutuel Wagering with a new Department of Gaming Control. The new destination reports would be selected from among competitors willing to pay $50 million to compete and then those selected would be required to invest $2 billion in each facility.
The affect on current racinos and casinos is reported to include:
--higher taxes than the new resort casinos;
--restriction that the legacy facilities may offer only pari-mutuel and slots products;
--the Seminole Indian monopoly would end and they would lose their exclusive offering of blackjack, baccarat and other table games.
Bill sponsor Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale) told the Miami Herald newspaper the goal of the bill “is to reduce gaming in the state and have the kind of gaming that is actually going to produce revenue."
The Miami Herald story also said one of the companies most keenly interested in getting into the Florida market is Genting Americas, which is building the new racino at Aqueduct racetrack in New York. The Malaysian-based company purchased The Miami Herald property in May and is leasing the land back to the company for two years, rent free, while is waits to see if there is movement for a casino in Miami.
The bill proposed would authorize three casino resorts in Miami-Dade and Broward (which includes Fort Lauderdale). In return for the exclusive licenses, casino operators must commit to investing at least $2 billion on entertainment, convention center and resort complexes intended to draw tourists and high-rolling gamblers.
(Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association)
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