Maybe Casinos in Orlando Would Improve the Place
Around the State
Isn't it supposed to be the casinos, not Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, that attract the porn? That's not what happened in Orlando, just named by Men's Health Magazine as the Smuttiest City in America.
It's true. Without a roll of the dice or the ka-ching of a single slot machine, Orlando looked up one day and realized it had become Gomorrah.
With apologies to Mickey and Minnie, I think maybe it's time for the folks at www.NoCasinos.org to rethink their motive for keeping casinos out of Florida. That family-friendly postcard they see in their dreams disappeared somewhere between the time Walt Disney World closed down Pleasure Island and grad-trippers discovered they could beer-binge their way around Epcot.
Here's how Men's Health Magazine jumped Orlando over Las Vegas and into the No. 1 spot:
"We peered through a statistical peephole to tabulate the following criteria: the number of DVDs purchased, rented, or streamed (AdultDVDEmpire.com); adult entertainment stores per city (StorErotica.net); rate of porn searches (Google Insights); and, for fans of soft-core, percentage of Cinemax-subscribing households (SimplyMap). Not only were Orlando folks the randiest residents, but Florida was also the most salacious state."
By "most salacious," the magazine editors meant that many states didn't have a single city in the Top 100 Smuttiest. But, besides Orlando, Florida had four -- Tampa at No. 8, Miami at 12, Jacksonville at 52 and St. Petersburg at 60.
Atlantic City, incidentally -- target of an over-the-top, even frightening anti-casinos ad during the last session of the Florida Legislature, didn't even make the magazine's Top 100.
This article in Men's Health Magazine is more than a good bit of fun for readers -- or should be. It's a reminder of what victims of hypocrisy we were four months ago, and how easy it was to walk straight into a spider's web of spin and anger and fear. Over what? Over the possibility of three lavish, $2 billion resort casinos being built in Dade and Broward counties.
Destination casinos were going to ruin Florida's family-friendly brand. There would be crime, devalued property, the ruination of existing businesses.
Never mind the legions of lobbyists for the gambling industry that swarmed the Capitol especially after Christmas, or the economic lifeline they were throwing a state drowning in tax-revenue deficit and double-digit unemployment.
Never mind that the resort casinos touted by the Genting Corp., Las Vegas Sands and others wouldn't have come within 200 miles of The Magic Kingdom -- apparently there goes the neighborhood.
Walt Disney World had its senior VP and CEO, Anthony J. Connelly, serving as the Florida Chamber of Commerce's chairman of the board, so the chamber wasn't about to change its 20-year opposition to casinos in Florida.
Florida, by the way, may be thoroughly anti-gaming in terms of the Constitution, but where it counts this is the fourth largest gaming state in the country.
As for "family-friendly" Orlando? Not even close -- though, I have to admit, I never expected it was bad enough to win the Smuttiest City in America distinction.
Orlando is one big tourist trap. It has no soul, no heart and not a clue how to be a good host.
It has police who hover outside the Convention Center waiting for visitors to take a wrong turn out of the cavernous, badly marked parking lot.
Many of its hotels charge $10 a night to self-park, $10 a night for WiFi in the room, $20 for early check-in, $20 to use the exercise room, and anywhere from $2 to $30 for something on the bill called a resort fee.
I once asked a concierge at one of the Rosen hotels between Sea World and the Convention Center why they stick guests with more fees than hotels in Boston or New York. He said, "Because we can."
I'm thinking maybe Central Florida needs a few casinos to teach the homeboys how to welcome guests.
I don't believe it's necessary for Orlando to fess up to the Smuttiest City prize. But I do think it's time for state chamber officials in particular to take the rose-colored glasses off. Orlando is not family-friendly. Orlando is not even friendly.
Those folks need to do a little work.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at (850) 727-0859.