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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Las Vegas casino owners making pitch in Capitol halls



Executives from the Las Vegas Sands are making rounds throughout the Capitol today in preparation for their report Thursday to the House Committee on the Seminole Indian Compact Review.

The committee will hear a report from legislative economist Amy Baker on the revenue potential of expanding gaming in Florida from auctioning off new gaming licenses. That will be followed by a presentation from two executives from the Las Vegas Sands Resorts, the mega-convention center and casino company that has opened similar resorts in Macao and Singapore. Sands officials have been presenting the pitch to legislators, suggesting that it's the logical next step for a gambling state, and to shore up the state's service-based economy.

The idea is to create a new class of gambling offerings in Florida, the resort casino. Under their proposal, the state would open up bids for four resort casinos throughout the state, including Tampa and South Florida and attract international convention business to the state. The resorts would devote no more than 10 percent of the floor space to casino games, and the state would agree to limit their competition. More here.

They say this kind of gaming will be the best competition the state could have to the Seminole Tribe but, they would not compete with Florida's existing parimutuel industry, as long as that industry is also given Las Vegas-style slot machines.

"Their market is not the market we are looking to attract,'' said Andy Abboud, vice president of Las Vegas Sands Government Relations. Instead, the parimutuels appeal to a regional market while the Sands' project in Florida would attract visitors from South America and Europe, he said.

"They can survive with expanding games under this model,'' said Nick Iarossi, the Sands' Tallahassee lobbyist.

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 12:28pm]


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