Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Anticasino group to form again as gambling is pushed in South Florida

TALLAHASSEE — The full-throttle push to bring casino gambling to South Florida has prompted the head of the No Casinos political committee to resurrect his organization to oppose expanded gambling in Florida.

John Sowinski, an Orlando public relations consultant and president of No Casinos Inc., activated the dormant organization late last week as legislators announced they are drafting a bill to offer three Las Vegas-style casino licenses in Miami-Dade and Broward as part of a push to bring resort-style casinos to Florida.

The antigambling group raised $1.5 million in 1994 and successfully fought an attempt to amend the Constitution that year to bring casinos to Florida. It did not succeed in persuading Florida voters to reject the constitutional amendment to allow slot machine gaming at parimutuels in 2004. It was approved 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent.

This year, No Casinos will partner with law enforcement, faith-based organizations and business groups to oppose the legislation, Sowinski said. Traditionally, Orlando's theme parks, along with Central Florida business organizations, have been a big opponent to the expansion of gambling in Florida.

"This is a different battle, in that it's in the Legislature,'' Sowinski said. "But the only chance it has to pass is if people in Tallahassee think they can do it in the dark of night — without the public paying attention. Our goal is to make sure it gets attention.''

Sowinski said his group will appeal to legislators of both parties.

"We will remind Republicans who count on the votes of conservative Republicans that you can't be pro-families and pro-gambling at the same time," he said. "And we'll remind Democrats, who count on votes of those who want to protect the most vulnerable, that you can't be for the less fortunate and for expanded gambling at the same time."

Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, one of the sponsors of the casino legislation, said he is not surprised at the re-emergence of No Casinos.

"I did anticipate an organized opposition to the bill by traditional opponents to casino gaming, possibly funded by entities — either in-state or out-of-state — that don't want to see an expansion of high-end gaming in Florida," he said. "I look forward to the debate."

Also opposed to the effort is the parimutuel industry with its 26 horse and dog tracks and jai-alai frontons throughout the state, as well as the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which has the only sanctioned casino parlors in the state. Despite the broader opposition, No Casinos will not accept money from gambling interests, Sowinski said.

"We know there is the potential to leave money on the table, but our policy is we're ideologically opposed to gambling money," he said.

In addition to Sowinski, the group is headed by Paul Seago of the Apopka Chamber of Commerce — who worked on the 2004 effort — and Adam McKin­non, whose grandmother is former U.S. Sen. Paula Hawkins, a longtime gambling opponent.

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at

Anticasino group to form again as gambling is pushed in South Florida 09/19/11 [Last modified: Monday, September 19, 2011 10:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 149, collapses buildings in Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 149 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75


    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.