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Florida is the Holy Grail for Land Casinos

4 May 2011 by admin

And at this point in time there is no Monty Python cast that will be able to change Florida legislation regardless of how many lobbyists the Sands and Steve Wynn send to Tallahassee.

Let me grab my lady pope hat and explain.

Yes, Florida is the Holy Grail when it comes to the places US casino businesses want to build new land casinos. There I said it. And while the Sands Corp, MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts are on crusades in Florida, it is unlikely that they will get what they want.

It is true that Florida is capable of pulling in money in terms of gambling. Last year saw the Seminole tribe, who has essentially a monopoly (sanctioned by federal law since they are a sovereign nation) on land casinos, pull in $2.5 billion between their eight land casinos. So the potential is there. For a time there was even legislation to bring five destination casino resorts to the state in Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville and a city in the panhandle which is likely to be either Tallahassee or Pensacola. But there is one thing that the three major casino companies are forgetting about.

Orlando is home to Mickey Mouse. The Walt Disney World Resort with its four theme parks and water parks was the pinnacle of Walt Disney’s dreams in terms of an attraction. And cryogenically frozen or not, no one messes with Walt Disney or Mickey Mouse. Not even the new Harry Potter section in Universal Orlando’s Island of Adventure theme park.

The issue is that while Florida is a major tourism destination, it is tourism built on family vacation to the Orlando theme parks to meet Mickey Mouse or see Hogwarts. There are also beach destinations such as Daytona Beach, South Beach, Key West and the Gulf coast. And with so much of their tourism built on family vacations it is unlikely that Florida will give that reputation up anytime soon. Robert LaFleur, a gaming analyst at Hudson Securities, said, “Clearly, Florida has sufficient attributes to attract tourism without expanding gaming.”

So for now the Sands, MGM and Wynn will have to sit on the beach and watch while Florida continues to be the Holy Grail for land casinos.

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