Spectrum Gaming Group has released a new gaming report commissioned by the Florida Legislature and in somewhat a bit of a surprise, the New Jersey-based gambling consulting firm’s findings point to potentially negative repercussions to the state’s family-friendly reputation should casino expansion be approved.
The report, which was released late Monday, explains that Florida’s reputation as a tourist attraction hinges on its popularity for families to make trips to the state, particularly in Orlando where Disney World is located. “The brand equity of Orlando has benefits for the entire state,” Spectrum Gaming Group wrote in its report.
“Expanded gambling may fundamentally change the state of Florida as a place to live and visit. Rather than benefiting the state, expanded gambling could make Florida a less-attractive tourist destination.”
The gambling consulting firm’s report is surprising on so many levels, not the least of which is due to its standing as a company that does its business on behalf of the industry. Yet even with the rather negative take on the issue of gambling expansion in the state (especially casinos), the principal objective of Spectrum’s report isn’t too make policy recommendations to state lawmakers, but only provide a broad look at the state and the potential effects of expanded gambling to its image and economy.
It’s not surprising that the timing of the Spectrum report comes at around the same time when state lawmakers are in the middle of reviewing the existing gambling laws before ultimately coming together to decide on whether it needs to be refreshed, expanded, or a combination of both. Recommendations on these plans will come solely from the committee, according to Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples. It is the committee’s responsibility to “to review gambling statutes, to address the ambiguities, inconsistencies and exceptions in current law, and to craft an action plan.”
In addition, the report that Spectrum released is only the first of two parts that tackles the full breadth of discussions surrounding gambling expansion in the state. The second part isn’t due out until October of this year where it will be devoted solely on the potential economic impact expanded gambling will have on certain communities. As soon as the full report is released, state lawmakers are planning to sit down for a series of meetings this fall to discuss the issue years-long issue of infusing new gambling items like slots and card rooms to offset the losses and declining popularity of the racing industry.