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The Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Thomas had an excellent piece yesterday about the proposals that FL Legislators are making to bring a multitude of Las Vegas Casinos to Florida. He makes a strong and compelling case why this is bad public policy for the people of Florida.

“The newest plan to save Florida involves turning it into Nevada….Line the state with casinos, rake in the billions and live tax-free ever after. It’s enough to make the conservatives in Tallahassee swallow their principles and sit down to deal. It spares them from making responsible choices about taxes and budgets. It would double down on everything that is wrong with Florida.”

Thomas goes on to describe the decay and misery that gambling has brought to Las Vegas and the fiscal mess that Nevada is facing because they have relied so heavily on predatory gambling revenue.

“Nevada relies on Vegas growth, Vegas tourism and Vegas sales taxes to pay the bills.  Now, just like here, people are bailing out, and Nevada is losing population. Foreclosures are so rampant that an economist predicted it will take 20 years for the real-estate market to recover. Nevada has a 13 percent unemployment rate, the second-highest in the nation behind Michigan. The Las Vegas school district is looking at firing 2,000 teachers. Residents in Vegas are 50 percent more likely to commit suicide than people in the rest of the country….Vegas is a mess. It’s going to be an even bigger mess over time as gambling proliferates across the country, sucking away all but the high rollers from the Vegas strip. And now a growing number of Florida legislators want to emulate the Vegas model.”
We still have a chance to let our Florida elected officials know that we do not want the state delving more into the predatory gambling industry. Research is clear: casinos lead to increased addiction, increased bankruptcy and increased crime. And they will decimate the surrounding small businesses which are already struggling to survive.

Read the full column by Mike Thomas on OrlandoSentinel.com HERE.