CASINO

Florida, Illinois seek to increase casinos; Stanley Ho increases net worth

TAGs: florida, Illinois, stanley ho

florida-illinois-stanley-hoDespite having rejected any expansion of Florida’s gambling business while on the campaign trail, newly elected Gov. Rick Scott now says he’d welcome the notion of bringing ‘destination casinos’ to Miami Beach, Tampa and up to three other cities. See, while asking for their votes, Scott promised state residents that he’d provide these things called ‘jobs’ and now he’s being forced to come across.

Just two weeks after his election in November, Scott flew to Nevada to meet with Las Vegas Sands honcho Sheldon Adelson, who has long stated his willingness to invest up to $3b in a casino in Miami. Obviously, this would be a boon to the state’s jobless, but it has quite naturally raised the ire of existing casino and racino operators in the state.

There’s also the small matter of the Indian tribes that signed a compact with former Gov. Crist in April giving them a five-year exclusive on offering table games. However, since resort casinos take a long time to design and construct, the current compact will likely have expired before the first new casino gives their roulette wheel its first spin.

Further north, Illinois is considering a significant expansion of its own gambling facilities. A House Executive Committee has approved a bill that would allow the licensing of a land-based casino in Chicago, riverboat casinos in four separate locations, and slot machines at state racetracks and O’Hare and Midway airports. The House bill is an expansion of legislation that has already been approved by the state Senate.

While state legislators are gung ho to gamble, existing casino operators in Illinois are no more enthused than their Florida counterparts at the prospect of increased competition. As one gaming lobbyist put it, the House bill would make one slot machine, video poker device or other form of gambling available for every 110 people in the state over the age of 21. But legislators are salivating over the extra $1b they expect to reap from the extra facilities, so they’ll probably push it through.

Speaking of an extra billion dollars, kajillionaire Stanley Ho, he of the mega-moolah Macau properties, has seen his stock rise on the Forbes 40 Richest list. Ho moved from #17 in 2010 to #13 this year, with a corresponding increase in his net worth from $2.1b to $3.1b. Of course, Stanley is an old man with serious health issues, so the question arises as to how all that money, power and influence will be distributed once he’s gone. With a wife and 17 children, the reading of the will could be a raucous affair, especially if it’s revealed Stanley went on an 11th hour truffle buying binge, and thus the money’s all locked up in treasured tubers.

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