Thursday, August 16, 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: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

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Updated: 9 hours ago
Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

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Published: 08/14/18

Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

40%of Americans who were eligible to vote for president in 2016 just didn’t bother. That number dwarfs the portion of all eligible voters who cast a ballot for President Donald Trump — 27.6 percent — or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton, 28.8 percent...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

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Published: 08/13/18
Editorial: Politics aside, arguments are clear for moving appellate court to Tampa

Editorial: Politics aside, arguments are clear for moving appellate court to Tampa

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Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: A big first step toward improving transportation in Hillsborough

Editorial: A big first step toward improving transportation in Hillsborough

The Hillsborough County transit referendum that has made the November ballot is significantly stronger than two efforts that failed to reach the end zone in the past decade. The one-cent sales surtax would generate enough money to meaningfully improv...
Published: 08/09/18
Editorial: Bondi should stop fighting smokable medicial marijuana

Editorial: Bondi should stop fighting smokable medicial marijuana

The fight for medical marijuana in Florida should have ended with the resounding 2016 vote authorizing it in the state Constitution. Instead, the battle for access drags on, with Attorney General Pam Bondi waging the latest round in a lengthy legal b...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: Warning signs of a mental health crisis in Florida

Editorial: Warning signs of a mental health crisis in Florida

They reach from South Florida to Tampa, from a high school to a college campus, from troubled kids to troubled parents. But there is a common thread connecting these tragedies: Florida has a mental health crisis. Addressing it would require spending ...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: Time to pursue or sink ferry to MacDill

Editorial: Time to pursue or sink ferry to MacDill

A proposal to use local money to ferry workers to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa always has been a questionable idea. The loss of nearly $5 million in federal money toward the project makes it all the more suspect. It’s time the ferry supporters off...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Blood on the streets of Chicago

Blood on the streets of Chicago

A hot summer weekend, when Chicago should be at its most livable, brings an undercurrent of dread and horror to this city. Summer is block party season, beach season, baseball season. But in some neighborhoods, summer is killing season — when armed g...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18