No Casinos' Anti-Spectrum Ads: No Winner There
Around the State
It's hard to imagine No Casinos winning hearts and minds with its new TV and radio ads on Spectrum Gaming's conflict of interest. The ads might fire up the choir a little, but even the No Casinos faithful have dwindled in Florida, a state rolling in games of chance.
The group Gov. Reuben Askew inspired in 1978 to keep casinos out of Florida is all juiced up like a ripe peach over the $400,000 study Spectrum is doing for the Florida Senate Committee on Gaming. It's unethical, insists No Casinos, to have a business that makes its money from gambling, assessing the pros and cons of gambling expansion.
Actually, no, I don't. But not for the same reason he does.
That's not Spectrum's job. Their job is to deal in facts, lay them out in public view and let the Florida Legislature decide how to use them. They will give recommendations as any study does. But their reasoning throughout will be wide open to public scrutiny. Check with any of the other governments, gaming operators, developers and investors who have hired them.
They aren't here either to sell us casinos or discourage us from inviting them. They're here to arm us with the information we need to make a sound, informed decision.
No Casinos' ad, the one I saw, anyway, is absurd. It's crazy wrong. Basically, it says Spectrum advising Florida on gambling is like inmates running the asylum.
No, it isn't.
Do inmates know more about running an asylum than the doctors and administrators? In "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," maybe. But unless it's Jack Nicholson doling out the meds in No Casinos' hypothetical asylum, I'm going out on the world's shortest limb here and say no, inmates don't know more.
Spectrum, on the other hand, does know more than the Florida Legislature -- and certainly more than a university think tank, which would have been No Casinos' studymeister of choice -- about what works and doesn't in the business. It understands trends and how to read them, it can identify the market drivers, the profit margins, the regulatory and demographic nuances, the exact amount of space and miles from anything Florida wants to know about what it takes to make a casino successful.
I'm not saying this because I'm a Spectrum fan. I'm saying this because we need the best resource available to help us find our way. Even with a ban on gambling locked into the state Constitution, lawmakers over the years somehow have allowed Florida to evolve as the fourth-largest gambling state, with a growing mish-mash of mostly low-end gaming venues, everything from barrel racing to fronton poker rooms.
The fact is, times have changed. I understand John Sowinski and the folks dead-set against destination casinos don't believe that. But the world a casino resort in the 21st century lives in is anything but the seedy, dark and dangerous place No Casinos paints it.
Most adult Floridians have been to casinos. These people, tourists mostly, no longer have the moral objections to gambling they did 20 years ago. More than half a dozen polls in the last two years tell us Floridians understand the social dangers of gambling, but they've had fun in casinos, they're not addicted and they realize they're benefiting from the revenue, the jobs and the ancillary businesses casinos create.
I'm on record as all-in for high-end casino gambling -- two or three casino resorts to cement Florida's place as a tourist destination would be fine with me. The possibilities they bring are exciting to me.
But I'm not expecting anything from Spectrum except professionalism.
This gaming research and professional services firm makes a promise in writing to every customer: "Our findings, conclusions and recommendations are based solely on our research, analysis and experience. We do not tell clients necessarily what they want to hear; we tell them what they need to know. We will not accept, and have never accepted, engagements that seek a preferred result."
These definitely aren't the inmates.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423.