Two South Florida lawmakers behind the push to bring mega resort casinos to Miami filed bills in the state house and senate Wednesday.
House Bill 487 could change South Florida forever, but not before a heated lobbying and political battle early next year in Tallahassee.
The bill proposed three Vegas-style destination resort casinos be licensed in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Fort Lauderdale state senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, who filed the bill, says it's not about the money -- it's about creating structure, enforcement guidelines, and rules for a gambling industry in Florida that operates casinos, race tracks and jai alai under multiple state agencies.
"This is not about bringing casino gaming to Florida. We have it," she said. "It is about harnessing it, it is about controlling it and regulating it and enforcing the laws of the state, and it's about creating a strategic direction."
The bill would also clear the way for the mega resort casinos to generate millions of dollars in revenues and provide one heck of an entertainment option, proposing casinos be open 24 hours a day seven days a week, serving alcohol at all times.
A newly created gaming commission would be in charge, with full-time commissioners earning $125,000 salaries.
Gaming legal expert Robert Jarvis says the more liberal South Florida region may be open to gambling, but shouldn't expect central and north Florida to agree.
"It's a very conservative part of the state," he said, "and they really do think gambling is the road to all sorts of sins."
Some local high-powered business groups are already in agreement, voicing opposition to resort casinos fearing they would detract from the state's other tourism magnets like Disney World or put existing horse and dog tracks out of business.