The fight against the rise of destination casinos in South Florida just got two of its biggest supporters yet. Sitting Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, both elected Republican members of the cabinet, announced their support of the No Casino campaign today.
The two join a bipartisan group of voices that have sprung up against casinos in Florida, including Democrats like former Senator and Governor Bob Graham and Dan Gelber, Bondi's 2010 opponent for the AG seat.
The latest push to allow resort casinos in Florida was spurred by the Genting Group's purchase of land currently occupied by the Miami Herald building. Genting unveiled a plan to build a mega-resort with a full casino, and two Republicans in the house and senate have introduced bills that would radically rewrite the state's gambling laws and allow three Las Vegas-style casinos in Broward and Miami-Dade county.
"It's been suggested that allowing mega-casinos in South Florida is the best way to ensure that there is no further expansion of gambling," Bondi said in her announcement.
"But that argument reminds me of what was said early on when the Seminole compact was made a few years ago.
"We were told that giving Seminoles exclusive rights to casino gambling would be so lucrative there would be no need in Florida for an expansion of gambling. Yet here we are, only a short time later, being asked to go along with yet another massive expansion."
Bondi suggested that the new law would allow the Seminole Tribe to increase gambling in other areas of the state, including Tampa Bay.
Putnam meanwhile took a more moral approach to the bill, claiming it was an "insidious threat" that would increase crime and gambling addiction in the state.
"What makes Florida special is our world-class natural resources, our beaches our waterways, world-class attractions that are family friendly in nature," Putnam said.
"For decades, leaders of our state, in a bipartisan basis, have stood shoulder to shoulder, to say, 'We don't want Florida to be the next Vegas.'"
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