For all the recent hubbub surrounding upcoming legislation to bring casinos to Florida, you’d think we don’t have gambling in Florida already. The fact is we have Indian casinos throughout the state, we have a government-run lottery, we have churches who offer various card games, we have gambling casinos just off shore and we have pari-mutuels. This weekend was full of media concerning the controversial bills being offered to bring full casinos to South Florida.
What has come under fire is the crafting of upcoming legislation and it is crony capitalism at its worst. The most controversial, of the 9 or so bills floating around Tallahassee is the so-called “Destination Resorts” bill introduced by State Senator Bogdanoff. Bogdanoff’s bill SB710 (HB 487 in the Florida House) would limit casinos to only Broward and Miami-Dade Counties – leaving the other counties out to dry.
The Libertarian Party of Florida put out a press release today where Chairman Adrian Wyllie said, “This is the logical equivalent of the state legislating that bowling alleys can only operate in St. Johns and Duval County. Or perhaps making movie theaters legal only in Hillsborough and Pinellas County. Why can’t Tallahassee let the free market flourish and let Floridians decide how they spend their entertainment dollars?”
During this whole saga, there is legislation to ban simulated gambling – businesses that have similar devices to slot machines however patrons are paid with gift cards and other non-monetary gifts to smartly side-step state gambling regulations.
The Indian casinos are of course lobbying hard against the bills as the new casino(s) would create a fair amount of competition for places like the Hard Rock in Hollywood and Coconut Creek’s Seminole Casino. The bills in their current form need a dramatic change of fairness and less government intrusion. Perhaps we will see some of that change at the December 7th workshop.
The Libertarian Party of Florida press release continues here, “The Libertarian Party of Florida is not in favor of granting one or two counties in Florida the ability to have casinos while denying the others. Nor is the LPF in favor of such over regulation as found in many versions of the gambling bills put forth to date. The Florida legislature convenes on January 10, 2012 and the LPF will work hard to bring economic freedom and capitalism to Florida and attempt to rid the state of crony capitalism.
“Libertarians want all members of society to have abundant opportunities to achieve economic success. A free and competitive market allocates resources in the most efficient manner. Each person has the right to offer goods and services to others on the free market. The only proper role of government in the economic realm is to protect property rights, adjudicate disputes, and provide a legal framework in which voluntary trade is protected. All efforts by government to redistribute wealth, or to control or manage trade, are improper in a free society.”
Crony capitalism is when there is a very close relationship of between business and government which results in the unequal granting of certain political and legal benefits to businesses while excluding other businesses or benefactors. This is what we are seeing today in this legislation by excluding other counties from benefiting from having casinos while eliminating other competition such as the so-called Internet cafes (the simulated gambling businesses) found throughout the state.
Lastly, we have state legislators with reported financial interests in how this all plays out. Not only should said legislators disclose any potential conflicts of interest in such legislation, they should abstain from voting on it.