Every day, it seems, more and bigger plans are being announced for downtown. But more and bigger isn’t always better.
The ones to watch closely are those that require too much public “investment” (a euphemism politicians use when talking about spending your money).
Another is one that could change the city’s character.
Florida always has had gambling. Dog and horse races were the only legal venues for years, and provided the state with a lot of revenue. In the 1980s, the state government got into the business with the lottery.
Now there is talk of casino gambling in Jacksonville.
Would it be just another business? Or the start of another Atlantic City?
Mayor Lenny Curry “welcomes the opportunity.” Others are not so sure.
An organization called Las Vegas Sands apparently is taking an interest. It has chipped in $17 million for one of several efforts to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot to spread casino gambling to Jacksonville and perhaps other areas, according to Florida Politics.
Speculation and rumors was rampant among interests competing for downtown space that employees of the Curry administration have ties to the effort and that it might all be connected to a new convention center and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ plan for downtown, as well as “mysterious Chinese investors.”
Would the new casino replace the convention center? Who would run it? How much city revenue would it produce? Who are the players?
Big money often breeds big crime. Gambling licenses were so highly prized in Louisiana that Gov. Edwin Edwards, who died recently, extorted $3 million from people who wanted them. In May 2000 he was convicted of racketeering, extortion, and fraud and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Some argue that casinos do more harm than good.
Curry supported closing internet cafes because they involved gambling. But he apparently views large casinos differently.
We would have asked Curry for comment, but he doesn’t deign to speak to Eye on Jacksonville or allow other city officials to do so. Only pro-Curry propaganda is allowed to pass through his information gatekeepers.