Monday, March 15, 2010

 

MANNA ISN'T ALWAYS FROM HEAVEN

Governments are strapped for cash. Florida is one of almost three dozen American states where the legislature has mandated that the annual budget must be balanced. Though those same states are lobbying for a U.S. Constitutional amendment that would require their Federal Government to also balance its annual budget: The irony is that they are the states that depend on hand-outs from Congress, now $14-trillion in debt, to balance their own budgets...I digress.

No surprise then that just last week, the five largest gambling corporations in America were in the State at the government's invitation to outline proposals for Las Vegas style gambling casinos in the Tampa - St. Petersburg, and Miami - Fort Lauderdale areas, and the promise of large gambling revenues back to the state's coffers.

Casino gambling in Florida is currently the sole purview of the reservations of two indian tribes: The Seminoles and the Miccosukee. Lest I digress further: Like the the "depopulation" of their northern Newfoundland brethren the Beothuk, the Seminoles were decimated at the hands of the American Federal Government in the 1840's. Descendants of the 100 (or so) Seminoles who remained now own the worldwide operations of the "Hard Rock" hotel - casino - restaurant chains which in addition to their massive Las Vegas operations also include casinos in Hollywood, Florida; Tampa and Coconut Creek on the outskirts of Palm Beach county. Their Hard Rock franchised restaurants and hotels operate worldwide.

The deflating news for Florida's state government - as it should be for my home province of New Brunswick where the province's first: "Casino N.B." at Moncton's Magnetic Hill opens this summer - Is that Ontario's four owned resort casinos are $100 million in debt. Primarily in Windsor and Niagara Falls; Ontario got in on the ground-floor explosion of Casino gambling in the nineties as a panacea for its financial ills (Step forward Mike Harris!). Large operators, including the famed "Ceasar's" brand in Windsor; the massive Fallsview and Casino Niagara, both in Niagara Falls and Casino Rama, in Rama (near Orillia) north of Toronto reportedly lost $94-Million in 2009, that on top of losses of $76-Million in 2008. In fact, Ontario authorities at the scandal plagued OLG (Ontario Lottery Corporation) aren't really sure when their four resort casinos last turned a profit.

Blame the recession in America, and more importantly border travel restrictions implemented since the attacks of September 2001, but just as New Brunswick gears up for it's Moncton operations; It seems that the casino gaming business is down all over North America...Just in time for the Picture Province's September 27th general election.

Over here in Florida - Republicans and Democrats take note: The state's gubernatorial elections are set for November. Maybe aspiring potential candidates should hold-off making statewide casino gambling part of their election platforms.

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