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No Casinos premiers its video talking points in Tallahassee theater

 

A group aimed at opposing the emergence of new casinos in Florida put its talking points into a slick new video documentary that premiered Wednesday for legislators at a Tallahassee theater.

No Casinos, the Orlando-based group which produced the movie-quality video, invited legislators and lobbyists to attend a showing of the video at the Tallahassee IMAX during the Legislature's committee week, complete with complimentary popcorn and sodas. In attendance were dozens of lobbyists, community members and a handful of legislators, most of whom are perceived to be opposed to the expansion of casinos.

Legislators are attempting to embark on a rewrite of Florida's hole-ridden gambling laws and decide for the third time whether to allow Las Vegas-style casinos into South Florida, where gambling giants Las Vegas Sands, Genting and Wynn Casinos are eager to set up shop.

The video begins with a brief history of gambling in Florida, including an interview with Florida historian Gary Mormino, and tracking many of the themes we wrote about in this story.

At the turn of the century, gaming had turned Miami "into a refuge for some of the country's most powerful profiteers,'' Mormino said. In time, organized gambling expanded to Tampa, where the city earned the nickname "Little Chicago" and gambling became a "source of tremendous corruption,'' he said.

The narrative then quickly moves to the slots initiative, and the alleged promise that "slots will not spread." The bulk of the video is then focusing on dissecting the impact of gambling on New Jersey's Atlantic City, with repeated warnings that the city's ill-fated dependence on the industry could be Florida's future. Among the claims about the fall of Atlantic City: 200 restaurants gone out of business, no grocery stories in the city proper, violent crime more than 500 percent higher, city revenues have fallen for the seventh straight year, and the city is now one third of the population it was 40 years ago.

Miami's Frank Nero, the former head of the Beacon Council and former councilman and mayor of North Plainfield New Jersey, gets prominent attention for his outspoken opposition to Genting's proposal to bring destination resorts to Miami.

Former state Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami, who works with No Casinos, is featured offering this observation about the industry: "corrupting a state legislator is simply the cost of doing business."

The video also includes some chilling interviews from J.T. Mathias, identified only as a "former casino employee" who talks about how the casino could track people, and calculate their lifetime losses, and an interview from a former gambling addict who talks about her failed attempt at suicide.

Among the legislators in attendance: Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, who is featured prominently in the film; Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach; Sen. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland; Sen. Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby; Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole; Rep. Mark Danish, D-Tampa; Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne; Rep. Jason Brodeur, R-Orlando, and Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami.

Among the lobbying elite in the audience: former Lietenant Gov. Wayne Mixson, former Democratic House Speaker James Harold Thompson and former Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher.

The movie will be showing in Jacksonville, Pensacola, Tampa, Orlando and Miami said John Sowinski, president of No Casinos.

 

Comments

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jackfrost

Did No Casinos violate the gift ban? It employs lobbyists and therefore cannot provide anything of value (food drink, popcorn) to legislators or staff. They are not exempt.

Jeff Greenfield

The event was actually hosted by a national anti-gambling group that doesn't lobby.

ed jenkins

The citizens have expressed many times that they do not want these horrible gambling casinos in this family friendly state bringing in the drugs, crime and prostitution that come with it. It is even worse for our state's poor who can least afford the losses but many times are tempted by these evil gambling casinos. The citizens appreciate this video and its promoters.

TGY

Nice try. No Casinos sponsored this event, their lobbyists told members about the event, and if they gave anything out, it violates the gift ban. Period.

Pablo

The state doesn't want casinos horning in on its fraudulent lottery operations where its raking in millions off the state's poor who can least afford it.

Steven Norton


I have not been able to watch No Casinos new film, but I have been told that it uses Atlantic City to make it's point, that casino gaming is a disaster on several fronts. I'm sure these include increases in crime and harm to existing restaurants and retail. What they probably don't say, however, is that the FBI Crime Statistics show several Florida Resorts with higher crime rates than Atlantic City or Las Vegas. Unfortunately the FBI compares both Violent and Property Crime only to an area's permanent population, which overstates the crime in communities with lots of tourism. Using the FBI stats, I would have to conclude that family entertainment (Disney World, Epcot, Universal Studios, Sea World and Leggo Land) in Orlando is more dangerous than casino gaming in Atlantic City or Las Vegas. Does that translate to Florida being safer with casino gaming than family friendly Orlando? Unfortunately, I can't come to that conclusion, because it would be morally wrong. Crime increases have to do with the people at risk, but the FBI compares crimes only to to an area's permanent population.
In Atlantic City's case, the visitor population increased from 4 million to 35 million annually, after casinos were introduced, and the employment from a few thousand seasonal employees to 52,000 casino employees and an estimated 20,000 added in support industry positions. But the crimes are compared only to Atlantic City's permanent population of less that 50,000. So you get a very misleading statistic, as you do in Florida resorts, like Miami Beach, Tampa-St Petersburg, Daytona Beach and yes Orlando.
As for restaurant closings, I doubt that the new film "Pushing Luck" talks about the many new restaurants and retail opened in Atlantic County, or the reason City restaurants lost business. It was a decision to reduce expected traffic into AC, and it required all casino employees to park at intercept lots on the mainland and be bussed to their casino workplace. The new casino employees were the most likely City restaurant customer, because most new casino visitors were day trippers, coming by line run busses themselves directly to their favorite casino (at on time reaching 14 million annually) or driving in for the day. Once in the casino, these visitors were likely to stay at
their favorite casino or venture out to the Boardwalk, not to visit establishments on Atlantic or Pacific Avenues.

Jeff Greenfield

TGY I was there and the sign at the refreshments stand and the guy from DC who spoke and welcomed folks as the host said the group that paid for the event and refreshments was a group out of Washington DC called Stop Predatory Gambling. I did not catch his name, but I just searched the web and they don't have any Florida lobbyists. The No Casinos film was really good. Every legislator should watch it before voting on this issue. I heard about the event on tallahassee.com and am glad I went. You and jackfrost should see it too.

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