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Casino Execs Pushing for 2014 Amendment

The gambling world's most powerful companies may have lost their bet with lawmakers, but they're coming back to the table to try their hand with voters.

A new political action committee dubbed 'New Jobs and Revenue for Florida' is up and running, with the goal of putting a resort casino amendment on the 2014 ballot.

Gaming executives like Colin Au are almost certain to pour big money into the PAC. Their pitch: Vegas-style casinos will attract millions of new tourists, create thousands of new jobs, and reinvigorate Florida's economy.

"It spreads the cake all over the place, and the people will come there, spills over the economy, creates huge economic development for the people," Au said.

But Florida Chamber of Commerce President Mark Wilson says if anything spills over the economy, it'll be crime, corruption and, most of all, competition that could devastate Florida's beaches and theme parks.

"The casinos have so much money that they're playing the Florida voter for a fool, and they think that they're going to come in with millions of dollars of T.V. ads and they're going to make all kinds of promises. Look, the Florida legislature didn't fall for it this year, and I don't think the voters will, either."

In referendums over the past 35 years, voters have done exactly that, with north Floridians like Lawrence Kaiser overpowering the pro-casino vote in south Florida and parts of the I4 corridor.

We asked him if 2014 might be different.

"I've lived there for 45 years, and I think that would be the same thinking in that area - I sure do."

The money factor could be tremendous. The PAC is being run by the very same man in charge of Governor Scott's re-election committee. Privately, one insider says given that connection, they wonder if the governor will get involved on behalf of the casino campaign.

Before an amendment can be put on the ballot, the group has to collect more than 675,000 signatures from registered voters. They have 21 months to reach their goal.


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