South Florida Tea Party announces support for GOP casino bill

January 12, 2012 (From The Florida Current, Written by: Marcos Restrepo) – Everett Wilkinson, chairman of the South Florida Tea Party and state coordinator for the Florida Tea Party, this week announced his support for the casino bill that would allow three Las Vegas-style casino resorts in South Florida.

The bill filed by state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, and Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, passed a first vote (.pdf) in the state Senate last week.

Wilkinson wrote in Red County — an outlet for conservative politics — that after attending the unveiling of a casino destination resort in Miami last September by Genting Malyasia, he did his homework and followed the money. Wilkinson concluded that the Miami casino resort makes fiscal sense; supports free market competition, a tea party core value; and would create jobs in Miami and South Florida.

“The resort would create an estimated 5000 new jobs at a temporary facility, 25,000 jobs at the permanent facility, and 10,000 construction jobs (it would be 20,000 if this was a big Union state–and half of them would be working!) I started to think of it as a resort that had gambling versus a Las Vegas casino,” Wilkinson writes.

He concluded, “I believe that any legislator that is opposed to building resort casinos which will create thousands of jobs in South Florida should be given the title of ‘Job Killing Czar’. The Tea Party will be watching this bill closely and hold legislators accountable in November.”

The casino bill has the support of the Florida Carpenters Regional Council, the Florida Retired Workers Association and UNITE HERE Local 355.

“The simple truth is that Florida needs more jobs to reduce unemployment,” said Andy Madtes, secretary of UNITE HERE Local 355. “We represent workers who earn middle-class wages with benefits and job security – exactly the type of jobs that destination resorts will create.”

Madtes is also the president of the South Florida AFL-CIO.

The Bogdanoff’/Fresen bill also has the support of Associated Industries of Florida, Associated Builders and Contractors, the Florida Concrete Products Association, the Florida United Business Association, the Florida Transportation Association, the Latin Builders Association and other groups.

Not all Florida business groups are on board: No Casinos, the anti-gambling coalition includes the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Attractions Association, the Florida Retail Federation, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and the Florida Sheriffs Association.