Gov. Rick Scott has a block of seats reserved at the cavernous convention hall where tonight's P5 debate is about to get started. Among the governor's vistors, we hear, is Sheldon Adelson, the head of the Las Vegas Sands and an eager player in the push to bring destination resorts and casino gambling to Florida.
Adelson is in the state for a series of high-level meetings to pitch his proposal. The company wants legislators to open the door to casinos but limit the number of permits in South Florida to one. Adelson, who made his name as a convention center developer, believes that with nearly 15,000 slot machines already in operation in South Florida, and another 9,000 allowed by law, two to three resort casinos will saturate the market with too many games.
For his part, Scott is open to the idea. He said again this week that he supports expanding gambling to casinos as long as local voters approve. "I think we need to make sure the local communities are supportive of it. We ought to have a vote,'' he said.
Adelson is scheduled to travel to Miami on Friday where he is expected to meet with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, among others.