Religious Groups Oppose Upcoming Florida Casinos

Faith-based groups and religious leaders have launched a campaign opposing new casinos from being built in south Florida.

Three proposed luxury casinos slated to be built in Broward and Miami-Dade counties are being opposed by the Florida Catholic Conference, the Florida Baptist Convention, Florida Family Action, and others.

It is a fight to help protect south Florida’s poor, according to the groups.

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“Our opposition today is especially based on our belief that expansion of casino gambling will victimize the poor and encourage addictive gambling,” said Michael McCarron, executive director of the Florida Catholic Conference, at a news conference Tuesday.

The proposed casinos, if built, would be a combined hotel, casino and convention center, the Pensacola News Journal reported.

Backers of the casinos maintain the new businesses would attract more visitors to Florida, a state whose economy depends largely on tourism, the Associated Press reported.

However, opponents fear the casinos may negatively affect some residents.

“Needy individuals are particularly vulnerable to the lure of the casino and the promise of great fortune,” McCarron said. “For those who are struggling to make ends meet, casino gambling can provide an attractive means to relieve financial burdens, which ultimately only leads to crushing debt and personal crisis.”

The debate over the casinos came after a bill allowing the resort casinos was recently filed. The bill is expected to be voted on next year by state legislators.

The planned resort-casino, if built, will be the country’s largest at 800000 square feet, containing more than 8000 slot machines, four hotels and more than 50 restaurants, the Daily Mail reported.

The proposed bill would change the gaming laws in the state and take away American Indian tribe’s monopoly of the industry.

Some in the region are concerned over the effects a large project will have on existing businesses and hotels.

Never the less, faith-based groups remain committed to defeat the proposed bill because of the effects they say gambling has on the poor.

“We believe that the casino bills are amazingly short sighted,” said John Stemberger, who heads the Florida Family Policy Council. “We do not solve short term economic pressures by creating permanent institutions that are regressive, counterproductive and not in the best interest of the common good.”

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