After a nationwide search, the Florida Legislature didn't end up far with its plan to hire a national gaming expert for $400,000 to write its report to lay the groundwork for expandingi gambling in Florida.
The House and Senate last week signed a contract with Spectrum Gaming Group, a New Jersey-based company that sponsors the annual Florida Gaming Congress attended by Florida legislators and lobbyists. The company has repeatedly been tapped by the same companies that want to expand Florida's gambling options to present reports to lawmakers in the past.
The group will write two separate reports that study the economic, fiscal, and social impacts of expanding gambling in Florida, including the addition of destination resort casinos. It will also examine the impact of existing games, from state-sanctioned lottery and casinos run by the Seminole Tribe of Florida to the slots casinos run by the pari-mutuels.
“Spectrum has extensive experience in providing independent studies of gaming in a variety of jurisdictions, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Ohio,” said Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, in a statement. “I look forward to reviewing their report as we take a holistic view of the role gaming plays in Florida's economy.”
Here's more from the Senate press release:
The gaming study will provide a comprehensive analysis of gaming market information, to include: an assessment of the Florida gaming industry and its economic and social effects; an assessment of various potential changes in the gaming industry and their potential economic and social effects (including effects on other areas of the economy); and a statistical analysis of relationships between gaming and economic variables for communities.
“The Florida Lottery, Seminole casinos, and gaming activities at licensed pari-mutuel facilities generate substantial economic activity; however, the State’s management of these activities has been focused on piecemeal changes, not a comprehensive policy that integrates gaming into the broader Florida economy,” said Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville). “This study will help House and Senate committees comprehensively examine gaming issues, including those that will affect the scheduled renegotiation of the Seminole Gaming Compact.”
“Spectrum is honored by this selection, as we realize the importance of this study to Florida’s policymakers in so many ways, from the future of its tourism industry to the quality of life for its citizens,” said Michael Pollock, Spectrum Gaming Group’s Managing Director.
The gaming study is divided into sub-parts, which will be addressed in separate reports delivered in July and October. The total cost of the two-part gaming study is $388,845. A complete description of the scope of work is contained at pages 11-13 of the Invitation to Negotiate, which can be found via the Gaming Study Home Page.
Spectrum’s project team includes: Dr. Howard Shaffer, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Division on Addiction at The Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching affiliate; Regional Economic Models, Inc. (REMI); Doug Walker, Associate Professor of Economics at the College of Charleston; and, Lori Pennington-Gray, Associate Director of the Eric Friedheim Tourism Institute at the University of Florida.
The Legislature conducted a competitive procurement process to select a vendor. An Invitation to Negotiate was issued in February. Seven vendors submitted replies by the deadline. An evaluation team composed of House and Senate staff reviewed the proposals in detail and selected three vendors for continued negotiations (Spectrum Gaming Group, The Innovation Group, and MGT of America). After negotiations, House and Senate staff provided recommendations to the Speaker Weatherford and President Gaetz, respectively, regarding the selection of a vendor to provide the highest overall value to the Florida Legislature.
For more information on the gaming study and procurement process, please visit the Gaming Study Home Page located at http://www.leg.state.fl.us/GamingStudy.