Reports on FloridaPolitics.com suggest that the multi-billion dollar operation is abandoning its efforts to open a Las Vegas style casino in Southern Florida.
It seems that Sheldon Adelson´s billions cannot buy the casino magnate everything he wants. For six years he has be funding PR and lobbying efforts to build a Las Vegas style resort casino in Southern Florida, but he may be finally admitting defeat according to lobbyist Nick Iarossi.
Iarossi told FloridaPolitics.com that the Las Vegas Sands made the decision to cancel consulting contracts for PR and lobbying – including his – at the weekend. He believes that the decision was influenced by the uncertainty surrounding the renewal of the compact with the Seminole Tribe, which allows the tribe exclusive rights to offer Blackjack in Florida.
Andy Abboud – the Las Vegas Sands´ vice president for government relations – added that there were issues over the legislation that would be required to expand gambling in Florida. Neither Iarossi nor Abboud commented on opposition from businesses – including the Disney Corporation – who claimed that a casino in Broward or Miami-Dade would tarnish the tourism brand in the area.
Florida Gambling Legislation Best Described as “Messy”
Historically lawmakers have not been good at passing coherent and synchronized gambling legislation in Florida. Many of the statutes relating to gambling legislation date back to 1895, and when the Senate tried to crack down on gambling in Internet cafes in 2013, it inadvertently banned the use of all computers and mobile phones.
Although casino gamblers are well served by the dozens of tribal casino and racinos that operate throughout the northern half Sunshine State, both the Las Vegas Sands and Genting Casinos were hopeful of gaining a foothold in the lucrative southern half of Florida – hopes that were raised when State Rep. Diana Young introduced the “Florida Gaming Control Act of 2015” last March.
Unfortunately, Young´s proposals died due to a lack of support – like so many proposals before them – and with the possibility of Governor Rick Scott agreeing to another five-year deal with the Seminole Tribe, the prospects for any changes to Florida´s gambling legislation are starting to look remote in the short term.
What Next for Las Vegas Sands?
Despite seemingly giving up on Florida, the Las Vegas Sands is not giving up on expanding into other areas. Sands´ executives are preparing to meet with politicians in Georgia, where proposals to expand gambling are likely to be presented to voters in the 2016 ballot.
MGM has already put in a pitch for a $1 billion casino resort in Atlanta, and Las Vegas Sands is said to be interested in converting Turner Field into a luxury casino resort when the Atlanta Braves baseball team moves to its new home in Cobb County in 2017.
However, Sheldon Adelson could again find staunch opposition to his plans in the form of Georgia Governor Nathan Deal. Republican Deal is known to be opposed to the expansion of gambling in Georgia and could veto any legislation allowing for the development of a Sands resort in Atlanta – even if supported by citizens in the 2016 ballot.
Deal´s term of office runs until 2019, so it could be another long, expensive and potentially fruitless lobbying session for the Las Vegas Sands.