Paula Dockery doesn't support expanded gambling bill as currently proposed

Speaking on WMNF radio in Tampa's >Last Call program with this reporter on Thursday, she explained her problems with the proposal.

Dockery said that if the state expands gambling, while it may bring new money and construction jobs to the state, it will have broken the compact with the Seminole Indians (not surprisingly, the Seminole Tribe of Florida announced yesterday that they will contest the proposed legislation if it allows for gaming outside of South Florida).

Dockery also said there is a parity issue, because the pari-mutuels won't be able to offer the gambling that these new entities would be.

"The current bill wants to set this up board gets to pick who are the winners and losers. I thought my Republican Party believed in free markets, " Dockery said. "If you're saying we're going to allow expanded gambling because we think gambling is good for the state of florida... then shouldn't we just open it up and let them come and let them decide where they want to be? And not make it..where there are winners and losers, because that's just another payola scheme where they buy off that they're the one and they have exclusivity..."

Dockery added she was not necessarily saying that expanded gambling is good for the state, but wanted to put aside the moral arguments and evaluate the bill straight up. She believes as currently drafted, the legislation is "unfair to virtually everybody," and she believes it won't have the intended benefits that are being touted by its sponsors in the Legislature.

The Senate Regulated Industries Committee is expected to hold the first legislative workshop on the destination resorts bill on Nov. 16.

Paula Dockery
  • Paula Dockery

Sunshine State News is reporting that economic reports released yesterday show that the revenue from three high-end resort casinos being proposed by 2 South Florida Republican lawmakers - may not cover the lost annual revenue from the Florida Seminoles or other pari-mutuel facilities.

But even before that news broke, Polk County GOP state Senator Paula Dockery was critical of the bill, saying it picks winners and losers, something supposedly anathema to Republicans who believe in free markets.

The bill, sponsored in the state Senate by Fort Lauderdale Republican Ellyn Bogdanoff and in the House by Miami Republican Erik Fresen, would consolidate all gambling in the state into one new department.

As reported by the Palm Beach Post, nominees for a seven-member commission, appointed by the governor, would be selected by a panel comprised of appointees picked by the House speaker and Senate president, similar to those that nominate judges. Commissioners would have to be approved by the Florida Senate. The commission would decide who gets to operate casinos in the state, issue licenses and have broad investigative powers.

It's that choosing who gets to operate casinos in the state that bothers Dockery.

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