GR News from the week of 12/12/11

Appeals court refuses to halt Fla. barrel racing

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — An appellate court says betting on quarter horse barrel racing can continue at least until the next step in a legal challenge.

The 1st District Court of Appeal issued a brief order on Tuesday denying a request by opponents to temporarily halt pari-mutuel barrel racing in Gretna.

The three-judge panel next will decide whether administrative hearings should be held on the issue.

Two associations representing flat-track racing quarter horse owners and breeders oppose barrel racing. They say it’s not a legitimate form of pari-mutuel wagering

Read more from Tampa Bay Online


Business groups seek more changes to stem unemployment tax hike

Unemployment compensation taxes that businesses pay are poised to sharply increase at the end of the month, but Florida business groups are hoping to reduce the increase through changes to the unemployment compensation system.

In a letter sent last week to Gov. Rick Scott, Senate President Mike Haridopolos and House Speaker Dean Cannon, business groups asked the leaders to make two changes to the unemployment compensation tax formula this year: decrease the taxable wage base per worker from $8,500 to $7,000, and extend the time for recovering imbalances in the trust fund from three to six years.

Read more from The Current 

Poll: Gingrich leads GOP field, Romney better against Obama

Newt Gingrich has a double-digit over the GOP field nationally, a new NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll found.

Newt Gingrich has a double-digit over the GOP field nationally, but Mitt Romney performs better in a head-to-head match-up against President Obama, according to a NBC-Wall Street Journal poll released on Tuesday.

Gingrich is the first candidate in the poll to take 40 percent of likely Republican primary voters, followed by Romney at 23 percent, Ron Paul at 9 percent, Michele Bachmann at 8 percent, Rick Perry at 6 percent, Jon Huntsman at 5 percent, and Rick Santorum at 3 percent.

Read more from The Hill

Outlook for hotels still bright

South Florida’s hotel industry will continue to be a bright spot in the region’s economic recovery, but a new study expects the growth rate in revenue per room to slow down.

Occupancy is expected to rise in the Miami and Fort Lauderdale markets, while PKF Hospitality Research (PKF-HR) expects a drop in the West Palm Beach market.

While the region had a spate of new hotel rooms during the pre-recession boom, supply is expected to increase a modest 2.1 percent in Miami and Fort Lauderdale during the upcoming year and be unchanged in West Palm Beach. That should help hoteliers raise rates and increase profitability.

For more from the South Florida Business Journal

Genting: Our Miami casino won’t be the largest in the world

The Malaysian company pushing for a massive resort on the Miami waterfront said Monday it does not want to put the world’s largest casino there, calling that idea a “myth.”

A casino planned for the current Miami Herald site would be comparable to some of the biggest in the United States, a top executive for Genting Group told a gambling forum at Miami-Dade College. That’s still a sizeable venture but not the gargantuan casino that critics have seized on in warning Genting’s plan would overwhelm downtown Miami.

“That’s simply false,’’ Christian Goode, Genting’s top Florida executive said when a fellow panelist talked of bringing the “largest casino on the planet” to Miami. “It’s not even close to being the largest.”
For more the Miami Herald

Florida Tourism Industry Saw Modest Growth During 2011

ST. PETERSBURG | A flood of new visitors from Brazil and a stunning post-oil-spill rebound by Panhandle beaches were bright spots in 2011 for a Florida tourism industry that has weathered some hard times the past couple of years.

The $60 billion industry experienced modest growth this year, and officials expect a similar bump in 2012 as the nation’s economy continues to improve and the BP oil spill that fouled the shores of Gulf Coast states last year becomes a more distant memory.

For more from the Ledger