Lawmaker worries about revenue leaving the state

Published: Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 11:42 AM.

TALLAHASSEE — A state senator is concerned about the gambling revenue leaving Florida, as Panhandle residents place their bets in cities like Biloxi, Miss., and Las Vegas.

State Sen. Bill Montford, D-Tallahassee, on Monday volleyed questions at the authors of a $388,845 gaming study commissioned by the Florida Legislature earlier this year, wanting to know how much gaming money leaves the state annually and what can be done to recapture it if gambling were expanded.

“Florida is a very diverse state. … Did you take into consideration the great diversity of the state, because I know a lot of people in North Florida travel out of state to gamble?” he said during a Senate gaming panel meeting.

The authors, part of the New Jersey-based Spectrum Gaming Group, told him $1.5 billion leaves Florida annually and is spent in outside casinos. The figure only includes casinos within a four-hour driving radius from the state line. The study’s authors said gamblers are more likely to leave Florida if they are close to outside casinos.

Montford, whose district includes Calhoun, Franklin, Gulf and Liberty counties, worried South Florida’s robust gaming revenues would skew the view of the state, not recognizing North Florida has very limited gaming options.

His questions were just a few the Spectrum representatives fielded during the three-hour meeting.

Committee chairman Sen. Garrett Richter, R-Naples, emphasized the second part of the study was only a draft and the finalized version is expected in about a month. The study was due Oct. 1, but Spectrum asked for more time because several of its economic calculations needed to be updated.



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