House Subcommittee Takes Long Look At Gambling
This morning the House Subcommittee on Business and Consumer Affairs met in the House Office Building lower level to discuss gaming in Florida. The House Building was simply packed with a number of stakeholders in the mix: gaming representatives, opposition, lobbyists and bystanders.
The meeting started with a general update on current gaming activities in Florida. The report highlighted the many different authorized gaming venues in existence, the revenue streams from those activities and the regulations in effect.
The microphone was then turned over to gaming representatives to introduce their vision for Florida business. Andy Abboud, Vice President of Government Relations for the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, started the presentation by discussing the success of the Sands’ Venetian resort (www.venetian.com) and how the Sands is looking at both Florida and Texas as possible venues for future growth. Abboud explained that Florida has the right mix of international traffic and transportation options that are needed to support an “integrated destination resort.” He emphasized the Sands’ historical business model of “destinations within destinations” which include shows and a heavy emphasis on conventions and meetings. “Please focus on how important conventions and meetings are,” indicated Abboud, “it’s not just about the casino.”
But will the “meetings and convention” sell point work? Will existing convention space providers, say in Orlando, oppose the effort? Opposition lobbyists are very skeptical and point out how the gaming industry will not create any immediate benefits for Florida. “This will be like Shakespeare’s sound and fury” commented one opposition lobbyist who suggests that there will be much ado about nothing. Either way, the gaming industry has long looked to Florida as a land of opportunity and everyone agrees that this legislative session will be packed with gaming activity.