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Push for Legalizing Casinos in 2012

January 3, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Senate has held two workshops on a proposal that would allow three destination casino resorts to be built in South Florida. The bill represents $6 billion in investments in Florida. Supporters say it would create thousands of jobs. But polls indicate the state is divided on the issue, and that division can be heard in lawmakers' remarks.

Senate President Mike Haridopolos promises a vote on the proposal early in the session.

"Let's have a final vote on the Senate floor, up or down. It is my understanding there will be a lot of amendments offered. I don't know if it will be a complete strike-all, but a lot of amendments will be offered in the first week of the session."

Bill sponsors argue the focus should be on the trade shows that the mega-resorts could lure to Florida, not on the Las Vegas-style gambling slots.

But would gambling mega-resorts be welcomed by all Floridians? Juan Harris, a gambling-addiction activist, urges that social concerns trump the lure of easy tax revenues.

"I do know that 35 percent of compulsive gamblers will commit a crime to support their gambling addiction."

Largo State Sen. Dennis Jones is a bill co-sponsor, along with Delray Beach State Sen. Maria Sachs.

More information is available at www.rwmiami.com.

Les Coleman, Public News Service - FL