A report has been released outlining the economic impact gambling resorts could have on the south Florida economy. Under the most expansive of proposals, estimates are that it would lead to $2.6 billion more in spending and 16,000 jobs if gambling resorts happen in south Florida. Under this plan, 33 casinos would be built and it would make Miami-Dade and Broward counties home to some of the best high-end gambling in the world. Under a more limited plan, 16 new casinos would be built, which would result in 1,697 new jobs and approximately $172 million in new spending.
With unemployment over 10% in south Florida, investors are looking at a way to boost tourism and provide jobs for those out of work. Proponents of the most expansive plans say that with south Florida offering some of the best beaches and best weather in the United States, it would soon become the travel spot for those looking to spend thousands of dollars at the gambling tables. Proponents argue that these wealthy tourists would then go and spend their money at restaurants and boutique shops around south Florida, resulting in a major boom in spending.
Opponents of these plans worry that it will attract the wrong people and worry that the societal ills will negatively impact their businesses. They were successful in getting this plan killed in 2011 when it was tabled for further study. This newly-released study, however, will be hard to ignore, based on the sheer amount of money it would bring to south Florida.
Some people in other areas of the state argue that the casinos should be spread around Florida in order to spread the wealth. However, critics say that the largest economic impact will be if the casinos are concentrated in one area. This will make Miami a “Las Vegas of Florida” and lead to it being a worldwide travel destination for those looking to gamble. By putting all these resorts in one place, the wealth can be concentrated, allowing for maximum impact.
While lawmakers will need to approve any plan for expanding gambling in Florida, there seems little doubt that changes are coming. The only question is the matter of scale. With just two new high end casino resorts, economists suggest that it could lead to over $1 billion in additional tax revenue for the state of Florida. The benefits of this money will be hard to ignore, as will the additional billions in spending and the thousands of new jobs.
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