Las Vegas Sands Corp has spent the last eight months campaigning for gambling legalization and expansion in Texas. The company hoped to enter Dallas with a Las Vegas-style casino. However, with the previous legislative session coming to an end, Sands Corp’s efforts were futile.
The company is not backing down. Instead, it has turned its eyes to Florida, a state that has had active gambling activities for the past few months. A report on Florida Politics suggests that Sands Corp. is using its resources to push for a casino in Jacksonville.
The company funded Florida Voters in Charge with $17 million. Florida Voters in Charge is a political committee. Sand Corp hopes that the political group will back an amendment to the state’s constitution to help the company get casino property in the city.
Sands Corp is taking a different approach than it used in Texas. Last year, the late and the then chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp hired eight lobbyists. Sheldon Adelson hired the lobbyists to convince Texas’ legislature during the 2021 legislative session to support gambling expansion.
The Gambling Market in Florida
A lot is happening in Florida in regards to gambling. With the governor striking a deal with the Seminole tribe to various groups challenging the decision, the gambling market is active.
However, the Las Vegas sands have no interest in violating the compact between the Florida and Seminole tribe. Instead, the company wants to use the 2018 amendment to the law, giving voters the power to decide about gambling expansion.
The 2018 amendment requires voters to allow or not allow gambling expansion through voting. The Seminole tribe supported this amendment. The tribe’s support for the amendment was because there were several bills before the 2018 amendment that, if passed, would allow more companies to build casinos in the state.
The Proposed Amendments
The newly funded political group will use the $17 million to campaign for one or two amendments. One amendment will allow the existing licensed cardrooms to offer more gaming options as long as it is located 130 miles away from the Seminole land. The cardrooms will also be restricted to development not exceeding $250 million. The other amendment will allow three new casinos in the state. Each of these casinos will be 100 miles away from Seminole land.
This makes Jacksonville the ideal spot for Sands Corp to build a casino. The city has a large player base, making it suitable for business. Moreover, it is far away from Seminole properties in Southwest Florida, South Florida, and Tampa.
Las Vegas Sands Corp sold its two casinos based on the Vegas Strip. The Palazzo and Venetian were the last gambling properties the company had. Thus, Sands has no American-based casino. This is one of the reasons motivating the company to search for its next gambling market. The company tried to enter Texas by trying to sway some politicians to support gambling expansion. Most of these politicians were firmly against gambling. Thus, the constitutional amendment requiring a two-thirds majority to pass did not happen.
With the company taking another shot, its new strategy is more viable. If the Florida voters in charge can get enough signatures to get on the ballot, Sands would run an ad campaign to sway the Florida residents. However, Seminole’s spokesman, Gary Bitner, said the tribe would oppose the addition of a new casino.
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