ennis Jones, R-Seminole, and Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, announced the news via a release. Jones is Chair and Sachs is Vice Chair of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, which gambling falls under.
The legislation would authorize what Jones calls one "destination resort" in each of five districts across the state. Broward and Miami-Dade counties comprise one district. Palm Beach County is part of another, along four counties that neighbor it. The casinos would require approval by local referendum, and the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the state's pari-mutuels say they're going to fight it.
Jones said the casinos would help the state's economy. They would have to contain at least 152 square kilometers for meetings and conventions, have at least 1,000 hotel rooms and commit no more than 10 % of their square kilometers for gambling. The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, for example, has 500 rooms.
Jones said estimates show the casinos could draw 5 million out-of-state visitors, and stop 3.5 million trips by Floridians to go gamble elsewhere, while also attracting big trade shows.
Jones wants the state to pick the five resorts through a bidding process. He said he's been approached by eight already, many of whom have lobbyists in Tallahassee already. Suitors would pay a US$50 million refundable licensing fee and a US$1 million non-refundable application fee, and 95 % of that money would go into the state's general fund. The rest would be split between the agency that would market the program and a state education fund.
The legislation also would create a seven-member commission to regulate all casino gambling. Florida's governor would appoint the committee members and the Senate would approve it.