The findings from a late 2013 Florida Legislature report on gambling in the Sunshine State are in, and they are favorable if you like to gamble online or off in Florida. The in-depth, 1,000 page report cost $400,000, and was presented to the Senate Gambling Committee by Spectrum Gaming Group. The New Jersey-based research firm was hired to give an impartial view of Florida’s gambling industry, including assessing any economic and social aspects and costs of both online and brick-and-mortar gambling expansion in the state.
Put quite simply, the expansive piece of research shows that expanding gambling would have little to no affect on Florida’s social climate. The gambling terrain in the state is already pervasive, with resort casinos, slot machines, jai alai stadiums, dog tracks, riverboat casinos and poker rooms popular and extremely well supported. Joseph Weinart is the executive vice president of Spectrum Gaming, and during a three-hour hearing before the Senate to explain and discuss the report, explained that expanding gambling in any form in Florida would show a “moderately positive impact on the state economy.”
Demographics were also revealed, showing that one in three Florida adults who currently live within 60 minutes of a Florida casino gamble there at least once a year. Also, Florida residents, and not travelers, make up more than 93% of the $2.4 billion in annual casino revenue collected in the state. The typical Florida gambler is worth about $866 each year to the state, and while this is slightly less than the national average, a full 50% of all Florida residents living within 5 miles of a casino in the South Florida area gamble there frequently.
With such a pervasive physical presence of well-supported gambling in Florida, the only logical expansion is through the arrival of Cyber-casinos, poker rooms and slot machines such as those currently operating through state-sponsored web sites in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. Cost for Florida legislators would be extremely minimal when compared to the money which must be generated for building physical jai alai frontons, dog tracks and casino resorts. And there would be zero increased cost to tax payers because of this. Also, the substantial and instant nonrefundable Internet gambling license application fees would provide immediate income for Florida’s economy.
The obvious ongoing taxing revenue would be substantial, with Florida’s population already showing a preponderance to gambling, and probably instantly supporting any web presence offered by the state. Currently there are two pieces of serious legislation at the nationwide level in the US to legalize online gambling in some form, and there are rumblings at the statewide level in Florida as well. Currently, legally licensed and legitimately certified offshore sportsbooks, casinos and poker rooms deliver reliable Florida online gambling to Sunshine State residents, and the money earned by those non-US operations could beneficially stay right here in Florida when the state decides to deliver a legal online gambling presence.