With gaming once again on the front burner as legislative session began today, it’s critical Floridians understand the ramifications of any sort of expansion of gambling in the state. Some of the players have changed but the issues remain largely the same – thus we are rerunning an editorial which was published on the opening day of the 2015 session by this site.
House Majority Leader Dana Young (R-Tampa) has had an active couple of days. After being solicited by the Florida Democratic Party for a donation, she formed a Legislative Brewing Liberty Caucus (regardless of your perspective on craft breweries the state has much more pressing issues) and now has filed a bill that would lead to an unprecedented expansion of gambling in this state. Young’s legislation would expand gambling to levels in Florida which have never been seen before.
Florida has beautiful beaches, an ecosystem unlike any other in the nation, and is an international melting pot unlike any state that has been forced to adopt gambling. But the inability of Republican administrations to jump start Florida’s economy and make us the state we ought to be given our natural advantages and robust population has led some like Rep. Young to seek the most cowardly way to create jobs and stimulate the economy – by jeopardizing Florida’s quality of life on the alter of short-term economic growth.
Gambling is not a part of the productive economy. The only risk involved is for the patrons; the House, as they say, never loses but millions of people, including working class Floridians who could potentially develop gambling addictions do. Not only is it not a form of business or commerce in the traditional sense, it is essentially a mechanism for transferring wealth from poor, working-, and middle-class to the obscenely monied interests that own and control the gambling industry. As for the decent jobs touted by gambling boosters — a study of state-sanctioned gambling in Mississippi found that half of casino workers reported present or past problems with gambling addiction.
It’s fine in our opinion if Mississippi, Louisiana, Nevada and New Jersey want large scale casinos all over the state. We have no problem with Floridians traveling to these states to gamble. But here in Florida, we live in a special enchanted land where can do better and must do better. This is a state unlike any other, with beautiful beaches, incredible scenery and exceptional gifts. Our Governor, who has lived in the state for barely a decade and has shown little appreciation for its wonders in the past, on Tuesday talked about Florida’s exceptionalism. Governor Scott probably doesn’t view exceptionalism in quite the way we do here, but we love this state and do feel we are an exceptional land that does not need to resort to the type of measures Mississippi or Louisiana do to stimulate our economy.
Friend of TFS, Ross Hancock stated the case against gambling in Florida succinctly when he ran for the State House:
Casinos provide perhaps the absolute least imaginative economic development option imaginable. Florida sent people to the Moon. We can do better than this and have for years done better than this.
It is difficult to find a single spot in the United States where Casino Gambling has helped a the quality of life in a community.
Gambling only works if no one else is doing it. That was the Vegas and Atlantic City model. Now casinos are very common within driving distance of most Americans.
Casino Gambling often leads to a huge financial and cultural distortion of the community’s fabric and politics.
Florida has cultivated a tourism industry based upon clean beautiful beaches, a tropical and sub-tropical climate, unique environmental features, family friendly entertainment parks and vibrant cosmopolitan metropolitan areas. Gambling threatens all of this.
We at TFS have decided to make our position against gambling public because it’s important that progressives and Democrats — particularly those in elective office — understand that there is serious opposition to casino-style gaming in the Democratic and progressive base. Not long ago, it was common sense in both parties. The fact that the Republican majority has even put it on the table is a sign of their arrogance. Some Democrats reportedly seem open to the idea amid industry campaign contributions and the feeling that it might pass with or without their support. We applaud the efforts of the likes of Rep. Jared Moskowitz and Sen. Eleanor Sobel to protect Greyhounds in this matter also – the gambling and parimutuel industry has never cared about animal welfare or even the welfare of human beings.
It is imperative that Democrats who represent working class families reject any expansion of Casino Gambling in this state.