Thursday, June 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: More gambling a losing bet for Florida

There's a lesson for Florida in Atlantic City, the New Jersey beach town that sought to re-create its former glory by marketing itself as Vegas East. Three decades later, the risks of gambling on such an economic development model are apparent. Unemployment and poverty both remain high, and one out of every three casinos is threatening to shut its doors. The industry is not the panacea supporters claim it is, and Floridians should take note.

The irony is that Atlantic City's failure comes as the gambling industry is making increasing inroads across the country in convincing politicians that expanding gambling will solve their tax revenue woes — or at least allow them to capture some of the money flowing to nearby Indian reservations' gambling operations. That's been the pitch in Florida, where the Seminole Indian Tribe has seen its casinos, including one in Tampa, grow exponentially while the state's parimutuel industry of dog and horse tracks and jai alai frontons has had little success in competing.

But as the New York Times highlighted, it's increasingly apparent that there is a saturation point for gambling and it appears to have been reached on the East Coast. Even as the economy has rebounded since the recession, four of the 12 casinos in Atlantic City have announced since January that they plan to close if a buyer cannot be found.

The potential loss: 8,000 jobs, or about 25 percent of those who work in the city's casinos. Already, the city's unemployment rate is 11 percent and its average household income is less than $30,000 — less than half that state's average. Nearly one in three residents lives below the poverty line.

The situation in Atlantic City prompted Donald Trump, who started his casino business there and still owns a small stake in the failing Trump Plaza, to tell the Philadelphia Inquirer that he expects more closings across the country because "there are too many" casinos.

Now Atlantic City's strategy is to try to diversify its tourist offerings, including enhancing convention facilities and adding children's attractions — a route Las Vegas began more than a decade ago with significant success. According to the New York Times, only 30 to 35 percent of revenue at Las Vegas casinos is now tied to gambling.

Florida long ago provided a wide array of offerings to be appealing as a tourist destination — including the beaches, theme parks and parimutuel gambling. And there has yet to be a compelling case that adding mega-casinos in South Florida, as some lawmakers unsuccessfully proposed last spring, would dramatically enhance the state's jobs picture or its bottom line. Nor is there an acknowledgement of the increased potential for societal costs from gambling addiction for families, businesses and public safety. Lawmakers who are spending their time before next spring's legislative session plotting how to best pitch more gambling should consider Atlantic City's plan for tourism growth: to become more like Florida.

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Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

Editorial: With Supreme Court ruling, Florida should collect sales tax from online retailers

It turns out the U.S. Supreme Court has a better grasp of the economic realities of the 21st century than Congress or the Florida Legislature. The court ruled Thursday that states can require online retailers to collect sales taxes even if the retail...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

Editorial: Congress should ban splitting kids, parents

The shocking scenes of immigrant children crying after being taken from their parents at the border exposed a new level of cruelty by the Trump administration, and though the president reversed course Wednesday, Congress needs to end the shameful pra...
Published: 06/21/18
Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Sessions kickstarts action on marijuana

Good job, Jeff Sessions! It seems the attorney generalís misguided attempts to revive the unpopular and unjust federal war on marijuana may be having the exact opposite effect ó prompting a new bipartisan effort in Congress to allow states to legaliz...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

Editorial: A court victory for protecting Floridaís environment

A Tallahassee judge has affirmed the overwhelming intent of Florida voters by ruling that state lawmakers have failed to comply with a constitutional amendment that is supposed to provide a specific pot of money to buy and preserve endangered lands. ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18
Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Editorial: Trump should stop taking children away from parents at the border

Innocent children should not be used as political pawns. That is exactly what the Trump administration is doing by cruelly prying young children away from their parents as these desperate families cross the Mexican border in search of a safer, better...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Editorial: ATF should get tougher on gun dealers who violate the law

Gun dealers who break the law by turning a blind eye to federal licensing rules are as dangerous to society as people who have no right to a possess a firearm in the first place. Yet a recent report shows that the federal agency responsible for polic...
Published: 06/17/18
Updated: 06/18/18
Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

Editorial: Encouraging private citizens to step up on transit

The new grass-roots effort to put a transportation package before Hillsborough County voters in November faces a tough slog. Voters rejected a similar effort in 2010, and another in 2016 by elected officials never made it from the gate. But the lates...
Published: 06/15/18
Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Editorial: 40 years later, honoring remarkable legacy of Nelson Poynter

Forty years ago today, Nelson Poynter died. He was the last individual to own this newspaper, and to keep the Times connected to this community, he did something remarkable. He gave it away.In his last years, Mr. Poynter recognized that sooner or lat...
Published: 06/15/18

There was no FBI anti-Trump conspiracy

The Justice Department released Thursday the highly anticipated report on the FBIís handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe and other sensitive issues in the 2016 election. It is not the report President Donald Trump wanted. But there is enough i...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Voter purge may be legal, but itís also suppression

The Supreme Courtís ruling last Monday to allow Ohioís purging of its voter rolls is difficult to dispute legally. While federal law prohibits removing citizens from voter rolls simply because they havenít voted, Ohioís purge is slightly different. T...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18