Casinos urge lawmakers to allow them to locate in Florida

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Eager to bring large gambling resorts to Florida, casino operators pledged Tuesday to create “potentially tens of thousands of jobs” if lawmakers will sweep away the legal hurdles keeping them out.

But some question whether such a plan is constitutional — and even if it can pass muster in court, it may still face a steep climb in the Legislature.

Dennis Jones, chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee that oversees gambling, has yet to file legislation to bring “destination” casino resorts to areas like Miami and Tampa Bay. But with that bill in drafting now, two casino companies seized the chance to make a case for it during Jones’ committee meeting on Tuesday.

Slater Bayliss, lobbyist for Wynn Resorts, said his client would be “very eager” to make a “substantial capital investment” if lawmakers created the right tax and regulatory climate. The result, he said would be, “potentially, tens of thousands of jobs” and an influx of “well-heeled” tourists from around the world.

Andy Abboud, a vice president for the Sands Corp., flashed slides of his company’s casino destinations, including its new mega-resort in Singapore. “If we were to come to the state of Florida, we’d be including large-scale, luxurious hotels

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.