Disney Proves Major Foe of Expanded Casino Gambling in Florida
Casino expansion is hardly a new topic in the state of Florida, as the Sunshine State looks for ways to lure tourists to its pristine beaches and world-famous theme parks, it also is considering adding casinos that one might expect to see in Las Vegas, not Fort Lauderdale.
As Florida looks to compete with nearby states – particularly those along the Gulf Coast with long-established casino industries – there are many factions in Florida that would like to see the state green-light a plan to construct more land-based casino resorts.
One powerful force is not at all interested in such expansion, reports the New York Times. And just who is this major foe? None other than Disney, a brand that is forever linked to the state of Florida via its massively popular attractions including Walt Disney World and Epcot Center.
Disney has vested interest in appealing to wholesome family entertainment
Disney’s primary motive for railing against the possibility of casino proliferation in Florida strikes at the very center of its image, that of clean, family-oriented fun. Disney is so committed to this notion, says the Times, that gambling is not permitted aboard the company’s mega popular cruises.
Though there are already plenty of gambling options for the bettor in Florida, with tribal casinos, poker rooms, racinos, and more scattered throughout the state, if Disney has its way, there will be no additional casinos developed there.
Racinos are also against casino expansion, though those in favor of the increasing the number of casinos in Florida point out that both the racinos and Disney are merely looking to protect their own interests, not those of the state as a whole as it is forced to compete for tourism dollars with nearby states with well-developed casino markets like Louisiana and Mississippi.
Turning Florida into a tourist destination that could offer fun for the family as well as more adult-themed entertainments – including Nevada-style casinos – is the key to capturing additional revenue, casino proponents say.
Said Michael A. Levin of the Las Vegas Sands Corp., one company interested in developing a casino in Florida, “Disney’s internecine warfare against integrated resorts in Florida under this pretense demeans them significantly.”
Company has financial stake in slot machines, lottery
Many point out that Disney’s staunch opposition to gambling development in Florida is disingenuous, as the company owns Marvel as well as Lucasfilm, both of which have licensing deals for various characters to be used in slot machines and lottery applications.
According to Disney, those deals are relics from the days before Disney took over the companies. Disney does not plan to renew licensing agreements for either Marvel or Lucasfilm characters, but critics are quick to note that in the meantime, Disney is still collecting a profit from such agreements, a position that Disney detractors find hypocritical.
For its part, Disney said that the company’s predicament amounts only to a byproduct of their acquisition deals.
“Marvel discontinued plans to initiate or renew slot machine licensing arrangements as part of its integration with Disney. The handful of remaining license agreements have expiration dates within the next few years,” said a Disney spokesperson.
“We oppose the legalization of so-called destination resort casinos because this major expansion of gambling is inconsistent with Florida’s reputation as a family-friendly destination,” a company official further noted.