Cost Benefits of Expanded Gambling Unclear to Lawmakers

Oct 8, 2013

The Florida Senate Gaming Committee is talking about expanding gambling casinos statewide. On Monday, the panel heard from Spectrum Gaming Group, a consulting firm they'd hired to determine the social and economic impact of expanded gambling in Florida.

A preliminary report released by Spectrum last week appeared to show that new casinos wouldn't have a major impact on the state’s economy. Senators asked the firm to go over its findings again, saying the report was unclear. Proponents say more gaming will create more jobs, while adding money to state tax coffers.

But opponents say gambling often leads to crime and family problems.

They also say new casinos won't add to the economy, but will likely cannibalize other, current gambling operations. Spectrum Vice President Joseph Weinert tried to explain his group's report.

"The expansion scenarios being considered, from minimal to maximal, probably will not have as diverse or robust of an impact as they would in a less gambling exposed jurisdiction", explained Weinert, "Florida is already a gambling rich state."

Florida now has a state-run lottery, several dog tracks, Seminole Indian casinos and other parimutuel facilities.

Four hearings are scheduled across the state over the next month, as the Senate Gaming Committee looks for citizen input on expanded gambling.