Florida lawmakers are following the classic playbook to build the case for more casinos in the Sunshine State.
First use taxpayers’ money to conduct a study about gambling. Make sure study touts benefits of gambling while playing down or ignoring the social and economic costs. Use that study to support votes to allow more casinos.
Call it the Casino Confirmation Bias. The Legislature recently agreed to spend nearly $400,000 to “comprehensively examine” gambling issues. The Legislature then hired Spectrum Gaming Group to conduct the study. Spectrum specializes in promoting gambling and casinos.
As Scott Maxwell writes in the Orlando Sentinel: “Gee, I wonder what it will find.”
Maxwell says that hiring Spectrum to study gambling is like “contracting Anheuser-Busch to do a study on whether drinking beer is OK.”
Of course, the casino lobbyists are the main drivers behind more gambling in Florida. Efforts to bring Las Vegas-style casinos to Florida failed last year but they remain undeterred.
As Maxwell writes: Before he was elected, Gov. Rick Scott “promised the Baptists that he would fight gambling. Yet right after he was elected, Scott jetted off to Vegas to meet with casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who wants to build casinos in Florida — and who later cut a $250,000 check to Scott’s campaign. And now, according to the Sunshine State News, Adelson’s lobbyists are telling legislators they should start giving casinos tax breaks and incentives.”
The casinos aren’t even legal and already the lobbyists are working on tax breaks. That should give some indication as to what Spectrum Gaming’s study will find.