Those conclusions prompted criticism from legislators who noted that the numbers differ from a 2011 report done by Spectrum on behalf of Genting’s Resorts World Miami. The company was aggressively attempting to persuade the Legislature to open the door to three resort casinos in South Florida and predicted they would draw at least 20 percent of customers from out of state.
At the time, Genting promised it would guarantee nonstop flights between Asia and Miami for high-rollers, purchase thousands of Disney tickets for resort patrons and draw thousands of new tourists to Florida.
“We only market to people who already have loyalty cards with other casinos,” Colin Au, president of Genting Americas, said in a 2011 interview with the Herald/Times. “Other than that, we get zero money from the local people. It is not a sustainable model in the long run.”
Pollock responded that the report didn’t take into consideration the aggressive marketing options suggested by the gaming companies.
Those distinctions prompted some legislators to doubt the report.
“There are some real issues about credibility of this report,” Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, said after the meeting.
The Spectrum researchers told the committee that Florida’s failure to regulate gaming in the past two decades has effectively allowed the expansion of gambling, and the best time to control it is before expansion is allowed.
“Will the Legislature guide the future of gaming or be guided by it?” asked Pollock, Spectrum’s managing director.
It’s a premise that John Sowinski, spokesman for No Casinos, challenges.
“Because your plumbing is bad, doesn’t mean you tear down the house,” he said. “There’s a lot of things that need to be fixed.”
Spectrum has close ties to the gaming industry and has done work for the states of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts and performed three modeling exercises to determine what effect expansion of gambling would have on the state economy. Because of incomplete analysis, the company is revising its report to include updated numbers on the potential tax revenue from expanded games, Pollock said, and the new numbers will not affect the conclusion that expanded gambling will have a modest impact.