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County officials criticize casino plan for failing to protect local jobs

An array of opponents, from South Florida to the state capital, has lined up swiftly in response to proposed legislation to bring gigantic “destination resort” casinos to South Florida, despite promises of economic development and an infusion of jobs.

The Miami-Dade County Commission was ready to slice the bill to shreds earlier this week as it spent three hours reviewing it and getting public reaction. Meanwhile, others criticized the bill as too light on regulation and incomplete when it comes to policing casinos.

The County Commission decided to send a letter to the sponsors of the legislation, Rep. Erik Fresen and Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, demanding they give local government more control over the mega-resorts, allow the county to get a share of the revenue, and carve out protections for the region’s pari-mutuel industry. Absent that, the bill could face their collective opposition, commissioners warned.

“What this means is that you have no say,’’ Commission Chairman Joe Martinez told his colleagues after the county attorney read summaries of the bill. “What this means is that the money does not stay here.”

Dave Ramba, a lobbyist for the Broward County-based Seminole Tribe, questioned why the bill took two months to produce since legislators left the job of writing the regulatory rules to a new seven-member State Gaming Commission and a new Department of Gaming Enforcement.

“They spent a lot of time on the creation of more government and very little time on what the commission’s job is going to be,’’ he said.

But Bogdanoff, a Fort Lauderdale Republican, and Fresen, a Miami Republican, said Friday their intent was not to release a perfect bill but to get the conversation started and have the debate over modifications aired in the open.

“I anticipated I would have to wear a bull’s-eye on my back — as well as Rep. Fresen — because there will be 100,000 people shooting at this bill,’’ Bogdanoff told the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau. More here.