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tombarnes

The Seminoles and Gaming

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Charlie Crist Allows for Expansion of Tribal Gaming

Governor Crist signed legislation today to allow the Seminoles to expand their gaming operations in Hollywood and Tampa into table games and regular slot machines. As I have noted elsewhere, I see that this will undoubtedly create revenue for Florida, but I have to wonder whether or not the expansion of gambling is quite necessary in Florida. The riches from gambling are tempting, no doubt, but are there not better avenues for development?

The Sun-Sentinel

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Great topic, tom!

A few years back the Seminole Tribe of Florida proposed a luxury mid-rise hotel for a piece of property directly across the street from the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee and I thought it would have been a tremendous success. Shortly thereafter, there was a change in leadership within The Tribe and the plans were put on hold. But at the time I felt that was an awesome idea (Hotel business) for them to pursue, in addition to their Hard Rock restaurant plans.

Like many Native American tribes throughout the nation, Casino gambling is a popular alternative for them. It can be both a blessing and a curse for a community. I favor the idea of gambling because it generates tourism, and keeps many Floridians from taking Florida dollars to other states such as Nevada and Mississippi to help generate tax revenues. In the name of diversifying the portfolio, I say it can be a positive.

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I'll certainly agree that gambling has done wonders for Mississippi. I'd be interested to see statistics about its effects in Florida- both positive and negative. I have been watching as Maryland is gearing up for what promises to be an ugly fight to approve slot machines in the state. There are definitely two sides to the gaming sword. I suppose I have not noticed the effects in Fort Lauderdale as the casino is almost hidden away unless one is on the main highway, I suppose). I haven't even visited it once. What troubles me is that if gambling is found everywhere, there will then be no lasting benefit to the places which already have it. Unlimited gambling everywhere would probably not be a good thing for our society in general. I also haven't heard much about the slots at Pompano Park, though I suppose they must have their adherents.

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Tom, do you or anyone else know why in certain places casinos are required to be over water? Is there some significance to this?

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I can speak for Mississippi, but would guess that the restrictions in other states (Iowa, for example) are for similar reasons. Essentially, the "over water" restriction was a method employed in order to limit the number (and locations) of casinos to areas on the periphery of the state. In creating the restriction, legislators could thus assure their inland residents that their counties wouldn't be "corrupted" by gambling casinos. As Mississippi and other places soon discovered, the barges were simply built in such a way that one would never know that the casino was over water instead of on land. After Katrina, the restrictions were lifted, but only on the Mississippi Coast. This was done in order to speed the economic recovery of the area. As for Tunica, the "over water" designation is even sillier, as many of the casinos were built in man-made holding ponds in order to comply with the restrictions. I'm unaware of a casino in Tunica which is actually on the Mississippi River. Many may be near the river, but the strong currents might make a stationary riverboat unpalatable. The casinos in Vicksburg, Greenville and Natchez are in boats or barges. In essence, the restrictions were created to assuage the sensitivities of the Bible-belt.

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Thanks for clearing that up. It was always my assumption that they had this restriction as a way to limit Casino development to the coastal / water bound areas. In few places, in Mississippi I've seen resorts build inland that are not near water. The first thing that comes to mind is an Native American Casino called the Silver Moon somewhere near Philadelphia.

But here for Florida such a restriction would be pointless as most of our state would qualify under any type of law that would limit casino development to the water ward areas. If this does become popular for our state I'm not sure it would compliment resort areas like S. Florida well, but would probably have a greater impact on lesser developed rural coastal areas, namely those on the boarding the Gulf.

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The Choctaws were allowed to proceed with their inland casino because it was built on tribal land. In the agreement with the state, they were allowed to build on the Choctaw reservation near Philadelphia. The tribe's current plans to build in land they own in Jackson County may not fare as well, as the land was not originally owned by the Choctaws. Most notably, the project faces significant opposition from local residents. They say that they will proceed anyway, but I can't see the state gaming commission allowing the project to go through. I wouldn't be surprised to see them build a "regular" (fully taxable) casino in Harrison County instead.

You may well have a point about the less developed areas of Florida facing the possibility of large-scale casino resorts being proposed in the future. I wouldn't be surprised to see the area in the bend being developed in this way. Whether or not this would be a great thing for Florida is up fpr debate. I rather like the urban/rural contrasts in Florida and would hate to see the state become one vast parking lot from the Atlantic straight through to the Gulf of Mexico.

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The Choctaws were allowed to proceed with their inland casino because it was built on tribal land. In the agreement with the state, they were allowed to build on the Choctaw reservation near Philadelphia. The tribe's current plans to build in land they own in Jackson County may not fare as well, as the land was not originally owned by the Choctaws. Most notably, the project faces significant opposition from local residents. They say that they will proceed anyway, but I can't see the state gaming commission allowing the project to go through. I wouldn't be surprised to see them build a "regular" (fully taxable) casino in Harrison County instead.

You may well have a point about the less developed areras of Florida facing the possibility of large-scale casino resorts being proposed in the future. I wouldn't be surprised to see the area in the bend being developed in this way. Whether or not this would be a great thing for Florida is up fpr debate. I rather like the urban/rural contrasts in Florida and would hate to see the state become one vast parking lot from the Atlantic straight through to the Gulf of Mexico.

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I also haven't heard much about the slots at Pompano Park, though I suppose they must have their adherents.

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