Palm Beach the New Las Vegas..Not Yet

by Rodney Forbes on May 1, 2009

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I enjoyed this article excerpt from the Palm Beach Post. For years the gaming dollars have been going south of Palm Beach County. Maybe the politicians have finally realized we can keep the revenue in the county.

It’s too bad there has to be so much political posturing and games being played (no pun intended) about the “social costs” of bringing gaming to Palm Beach County. If people want to gamble, they’ll go wherever they can. We might as well keep the jobs here.

Palm Beach County leaders and activists weighed revenues, jobs, social costs and political prospects today as they pondered the possibility of a countywide referendum on expanded gambling.

The idea of a referendum emerged Wednesday as Florida legislators tried to reach agreement on new gambling rules for the state.

Kennel Club President Pat Rooney Jr. said he’s confident a gambling referendum will pass if supporters can demonstrate that a large portion of the revenue will stay in Palm Beach County.

House and Senate negotiators are trying to strike a gaming deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida and accommodate the state’s horse and dog tracks and other pari-mutuels that compete with Indian establishments for gambling business.

One proposal would allow slot machines at the Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm Beach if county voters approve.

Voters will need to know exactly what type of games would be allowed and how money would be divided between the state and county before they can make a decision, said county Democratic Party Chairman Mark Alan Siegel.

“Unless you know the details very, very well, it’s impossible to say anything about it. And that’s typical of gambling measures anywhere,” said Siegel.

State Rep. Joseph Abruzzo, D-Wellington, one of the House gambling conferees, agreed that where the revenues go is critical.

“If it’s on the ballot and it’s going toward education, I think it would have a greater chance than if it’s going toward the general budget,” Abruzzo said.

Maybe one day we could be smart enough to realize people would rather travel to Florida rather than the middle of the desert in Las Vegas. You can figure the rest out for yourself.

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