Add one more name to the list of possible locations for a Las Vegas-style destination casino in South Florida:  the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood.

Republican State Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, whose district includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties, told me during a taping of News and Views that operators of the Diplomat have expressed interest in getting one of three possible destination casino licenses allowed under a bill she filed in Tallahassee.  Bogdanoff was joined on the show by the bill’s sponsor in the House, State Rep. Erik Fresen (R-Miami-Dade).

I spoke to Bogdanoff and Fresen one week after Beacon Council President Frank Nero appeared on the show to say casinos would hurt local businesses and increase crime in South Florida.  The two lawmakers counter that their proposal would create jobs, spur economic development, attract tourists, and regulate an industry that is already thriving in Florida, the fourth largest gaming state in the country. “We want to create a strategic direction for gaming in Florida,” Bogdanoff said.

“There is already casino gambling in Florida,” Fresen told me. “What we want to do is harnass the direction of gaming in the state. If we’re going to have casino gambling, let it be of the highest quality so it enhances tourism and creates economic development.”

Other possible locations for Las Vegas style destination gaming include the site of the current Miami Herald building near downtown Miami and the Park West neighborhood near Overtown.  Land near Sun Life Stadium owned by Miami Dolphins owner Steven Ross has also been mentioned as a possible site for a casino.

The bills filed by Fresen and Bogdanoff would allow up to 3 destination casinos in South Florida.  The casinos could only be located in Miami-Dade and Broward, two counties that already have casinos in pari-mutuels and Indian reservations.  The bills would also create a state gaming commission which would decide where the casinos would be located.  The bills call for a minimum investment of $2 billion by a company seeking a casino license.

Bogdanoff played down fears that mega casinos will kill business for local hotels, shops and restaurants. “When a big chain restaurant comes into an area, you might have a mom and pop restaurant that gets nervous,” she said.  “But that’s the nature of free enterprise. Competition makes everyone better.


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