One of the World’s best known casino moguls has picked up what is left of his chips and exited Florida. Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp tried for six years to bring a destination resort casino to the Sunshine State. He joins a baker’s dozen of other casino operators who over the past quarter of a century have tried to cajole skittish Florida voters and legislators into bringing big time gambling resorts into the state.
The St. Peters Blog reported that the Sands Organization had been canceling public relations, lobbying, and consultant contracts in Florida. The news hit the gaming industry trade publications Tuesday as the casino lobbying cash flow quickly came to an end.
The State of Florida has never passed gaming legislation which would establish gambling policy. There has never been a serious legislative attempt to address a comprehensive approach to gaming which has slowly spread in Miami-Dade County and Broward County where voters approved slot machines in race tracks.
In Florida the Seminole Indian Tribe is king of the gambling hill with their Hard Rock Hotel & Casino operations on their reservations in Hollywood and Tampa Florida. The Hard Rock in Hollywood is a Hotel, Casino, Entertainment Center complete with major restaurants, clubs, and an concert venue that hosts big time entertainers. It is in effect a destination resort but not on the scale of a Las Vegas resort such as the Sands.
The Seminole Tribe has an agreement with the State of Florida allowed by their status as sovereign indian tribe to operate casinos and are granted an exclusive franchise to offer table Black Jack which the race track casinos cannot. For that privilege the Seminoles through their compact with the State of Florida have shelled out over $400-million dollars a year to the state coffers. That compact is currently at the end of its five year run and the state and the tribe are trying to hash out a new agreement which now in mediation.
The State of Florida likes the easy money, the Indians do not want competition for their casinos and the Walt Disney organization has opposed casinos since day one. Both have powerful voices and lobbying forces in the state capitol. The Florida legislature is where gambling bills go to die.
Nick Iarossi, the Las Vegas Sands Florida lobbyist is quoted as saying the decision to pull out of Florida came this last weekend. He said the uncertainty over the deal to renew the gambling compact with the Seminole influenced the decision. “As long as the tribe is influencing the gaming landscape, there will not be room for us.”