Make us your home page
Instagram

Florida's gambling industry: Who wants to bet it's about to expand?

Florida is still trying to figure out how big a role gambling should play in its economy.

Indian tribe casinos here generated a substantial $2.2 billion in revenues in 2011. That sum placed the state fourth nationwide in Indian gaming revenue. But it leaves Florida facing stiff new competition from other states and, this week, new challenges from Internet gambling.

Florida gaming revenues from the eight Seminole and Miccosukee tribe casinos surpassed those generated in Connecticut in 2011. Yet Washington leapfrogged both states to rank No. 3 nationwide behind California and Oklahoma. Just out, the 2011 rankings appear in the annual "Indian Gaming Industry Report" published by Casino City Press.

According to analyst Alan Meister, the report's author, Florida revenues grew because of more table games like blackjack in South Florida casinos, and the opening of the gambling room targeted at Asians at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tampa.

The Tampa casino is the Seminoles' biggest moneymaker and Central Florida's only major casino.

"It doesn't hurt to be in the market by ourselves, I'll tell you that," John Fontana, president of Tampa's Seminole Hard Rock complex, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. Fontana delivered Wednesday's opening address at the Florida Gaming Congress held in Hollywood.

Nationwide, Indian gaming revenues in 2011 topped $27 billion.

An industry curveball was thrown this week when New Jersey became the biggest state yet to permit regulated online gambling. The New Jersey law requires online gamblers to be physically in the state. But the law leaves open the possibility of adding other willing states through compacts.

Only a year ago, the federal government was busy targeting online gambling operations and their partners with criminal and civil lawsuits.

Federal prosecutors had clamped down on some high-flying online gambling sites, including one called Absolute Poker funded with family money from St. Petersburg.

Now the U.S. Justice Department has changed its mind and no longer treats online gambling as a criminal enterprise.

So far, gambling observers seem split on whether Florida is poised for another round of gambling expansion.

After lobbying by Indian casinos, state legislators last year defeated efforts by Malaysia's Genting Group to win Las Vegas-style "destination gambling" in South Florida.

Expanding casino gambling is not supposed to be on the state's agenda when Florida's Legislature convenes Tuesday. Tallahassee leaders instead seek a study of the state gambling industry by Oct. 1.

Florida's gambling future is hardly clear. The Sunshine State News service suggests online betting is a back-burner issue here. Bloomberg News reports it's front-burner news.

The Miami Herald now reports that discussion about the industry's future in Florida is heating up once again. The paper says a group of Wall Street analysts at the Florida Gaming Congress agreed it's not a question of if destination gambling resorts will arrive in Florida, only when it will happen.

Contact Robert Trigaux at trigaux@tampabay.com.

Top 5 states by Indian

gaming revenue, 2011

StateRevenuePercent of U.S. total
California$6.9 billion25.2
Oklahoma$3.5 billion12.7
Washington$2.2 billion7.9
Florida$2.2 billion7.9
Connecticut$2 billion 7.3
StateRevenuePercent of U.S. total
California$6.9 billion25.2
Oklahoma$3.5 billion12.7
Washington$2.2 billion7.9
Florida$2.2 billion7.9
Connecticut$2 billion 7.3

Source: Casino City's 2013 Indian Gaming Industry Report

Florida's gambling industry: Who wants to bet it's about to expand? 02/27/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 10:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trigaux: For Class of 2016, college debt loads favor Florida graduates

    Banking

    Florida college graduates saddled with student debt: Take heart. The average debt Class of 2016 Florida grads must bear is less than students in most states.

    University of South Florida undergraduates gather at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa for last fall's commencement ceremony. A new survey finds their average student debt upon graduating was $22,276. Statewide, 2016 Florida grads ranked a relatively unencumbered 45th among states, averaging $24,461 in student debt. [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  2. After Hurricane Irma, many ask: How safe are shelters?

    News

    NAPLES — Residents of the Naples Estates mobile home park beamed and cheered when President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott strolled amid piles of shredded aluminum three days after Hurricane Irma to buck up residents and hail the work of emergency responders. But almost nobody had anything good to say about …

    The Islamic Society of Tampa Bay Area opened its doors to anyone seeking temporary shelter during Hurricane Irma. Evacuees were housed in the Istaba multipurpose building and was quickly at capacity housing over 500 people. [Saturday, September 9, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  3. When elders are in peril, who do you call — 911 or Rick Scott's cell?

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Twelve hours after Irma blasted through South Florida, conditions at Larkin Community Hospital in Hollywood were miserable.

    Police surround the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which had no air conditioning after Hurricane Irma knocked out power, on Sept. 13 in Hollywood. So far, nine deaths have been blamed on the incedent. [John McCall | South Florida Sun-Sentinel]
  4. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency and leaders

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and disregarded its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  5. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Ciccio executive chef Luis Flores prepares an Impossible Burger Wednesday at the Epicurean Hotel Food Theatre in Tampa.