Constant updates: ‘Destination Resorts’ legislation busts out in the Florida Legislature

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Consideration of a major gambling bill, allowing destination resorts, has been postponed in a House committee, with its sponsor saying he can read the tea leaves about the bill’s uphill chances for passage.

Mary Ellen Klas has the play-by-play:

After a lengthy debate, a House Business and Consumer Affairs and subcommittee stopped short of killing the bill to bring three so-called destination resorts to Florida but, by failing to take a final vote on the measure, left it on life support.

After working for weeks to muster the votes on the 15-member committee, Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, couldn’t get a majority. He asked the committee to postpone a vote, leaving open a chance that the bill could be revived as an amendment but signaling that the effort is all-but dead this legislative session under House rules.

In gambling terms, the legislation has just ‘busted out’.

Unless there is a ‘miracle on the river’ the issue is dead for this legislative session.

Update – 10:38 a.m. – @DanGelber: TP’d! A stunning but well-deserved defeat proving sometimes money can’t buy love.

Update – 10:44 a.m. – @JohnStemberger: Ding dong, the wicked witch is dead.

Update – 11:05 a.m. – AP’s story on death of ‘Destination Resorts’ legislation.

Update – 11:08 a.m. – House Rules Chair Gary Aubuchon immediately put out a press statement saying that the bill will not be heard by other committees or taken directly to the full House, reports Kathleen Haughney. “As long as I am the Chairman of the House Rules Committee, this bill will not be withdrawn from any committees and is dead for this year” said Aubuchon in the release.

Update – 11:16 a.m. – “Obviously, this is an issue that won’t go away and it’s going to be at the forefront of Florida voters’ minds when the elections come around,” said Jessica Hoppe, general counsel for Genting Resorts World Miami, which is looking to open a massive, bayside casino resort in Miami. “This would have actually resulted in a contraction of gaming,” Hoppe said. “And the Legislature will need to take up this issue again in the future.”

Update – 11:18 a.m. – Statement from Associated Industries’ Brewster Bevis: Since its founding, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) has advocated for policies that are in the best interest of Florida’s businesses. And, since this economic downturn began, our focus has been on helping the business community create jobs so more Floridians can get back to work.  

“The construction and operation of three Florida destination resorts will open up employment opportunities for nearly 100,000 Floridians, helping us move almost 10 percent of the state’s jobless off the unemployment rolls. Destination resorts will also bring a minimum $6 billion in up-front, private-sector investment that will help jumpstart our economy. Additionally, this proposal will add strong regulation to Florida’s gaming structure and result in a net reduction in slot operations in the state. 

Today, the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee heard testimony from people across the state who support the jobs and economic opportunity the destination resort industry will bring Florida. We appreciate the subcommittee’s time and thoughtful consideration of the views shared today. On behalf of Florida’s business community, we encourage the Legislature and Florida Senate, which still has a destination resorts bill in motion, to continue the dialogue on this important proposal. 

AIF believes destination resorts can be part of the solution to creating the high-quality, well-paying jobs Floridians need now. We look forward to working with the Legislature on this proposal, and others, which will bring more jobs to Florida.”

Update – 11:39 a.m. – Statement from Jessica Hoppe, Senior Vice-President of Government Affairs and General Counsel, Resorts World Miami: We greatly appreciate the hard work of the destination resorts legislation bill sponsors, as well as all those who support efforts to bring common sense gaming reform and jobs to Florida. Resorts World Miami remains committed to the vision of world-class destination resorts in South Florida, and will continue to work with the state legislature and the South Florida community to bring this vision into a reality.”

Update – 1:27 p.m. – Statement from the Florida Chamber’s Mark Wilson: “The Florida Chamber of Commerce would like to commend Rep. Eric Fresen, Chairman Doug Holder and the members of the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee for effectively closing the books on this year’s distracting mega-casino debate. For all intents and purposes, today’s decision to postpone consideration of the gambling legislation is a decision to let what happens in Vegas stay in Vegas and frees up the Florida Legislature to address critical issues facing our state.

“We are pleased House members are putting the mega-casino question on the back burner. Now, lawmakers can intensify their focus on the pressing issues that are critical to Florida’s business community including lowering unemployment insurance rates, reducing workers’ compensation costs, closing the internet sales tax loophole, continuing to improve education and helping small businesses grow. With a few more weeks left in the Legislative Session, with the mega-casino issue quickly moving into the rear-view mirror, we look forward to working hand-in-hand with lawmakers to pass the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2012 business agenda.”

Update – 1:29 p.m. – My analysis — Florida Chamber prevails in ‘Clash of Titans’ over Associated Industries is up here.


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.