State economists to meet again next week on casino proposalby Dara Kam | December 2nd, 2011
Just how much money three new casinos might bring to the state remains unclear after state economists spent hours struggling to settle on an amount.
The state Revenue Estimating Conference, made up of economists representing the legislature, Gov. Rick Scott and state agencies, took a second swipe at an estimate on Friday but agreed to meet again next week to try to finalize the numbers.
“I think we’re getting close to getting numbers that we could all agree to and feel comfortable with that we could end up adopting next week,” the legislature’s chief economist Amy Baker told reporters late Friday. “People want to think about a couple parts some more. There’s about 16 different piece of the bill that affect revenues and state revenues in one shape or fashion. There are a lot of moving parts behind those but I think we’re getting very close to a product that we can all agree to.”
Proponents of the “destination resorts” measure, including sponsor Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, contend the casinos will bring an economic boom to the cash-strapped state. Her plan (SB 710) requires potential casino operators to spend at least $2 billion to develop and build facilities aimed at attracting high rollers from around the world.
The state economists did agree that the three casinos would bring in at least $350 million over four years in taxes, the bulk of that coming from collections related to construction and equipment. The estimators also debated how much money visitors would spend and how many new tourists the casinos might bring to Florida.