Disney fights Florida gambling expansion

disneyAside from anti-gambling groups, the main hurdles that always make gambling expansion difficult are competing interests. This is again evident in the state of Florida.

With the state taking a long hard look at gambling expansion, competing interests are beginning to make their presence known in Central Florida’s $28 billion tourism industry over whether to embrace high-stakes gambling.

While casino executives are aggressively lobbying the Florida Legislature to build Las Vegas-style casino resorts in South Florida and Central Florida, tourism leaders feel they must follow suit or risk losing convention business to Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Competing interests are trying to shoot down the gambling expansion bid entirely.

Walt Disney World has historically aggressively opposed any efforts to expand gambling anywhere in Florida and yesterday, Disney made it clear that its stance hasn’t changed on the issue of gambling expansion.

Disney spokesman Mike Griffin said during a meeting with the Orlando Sentinel’s editorial board: “We really think it disagrees or conflicts with the family-friendly brand of Florida.” – Orlando Sentinel.

In other words, Disney wants to limit their competition for tourism dollars.

Disney has the backing of the anti-gambling group No Fun- excuse me, No Casinos Inc. It’s a group that Disney helps fund and thus keeps in their back pocket. Disney also has Mark Wilson, president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce backing them up. Wilson has said the chamber will fight any plans to expand gambling during the next legislative session, which begins Jan. 10.

According to Wilson: “This commercial casino gambling … is one of the biggest threats to the future of Florida that’s on the drawing board right now.” – Orlando Sentinel.

Off come the gloves.