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State's casino pitch bugs

Gov. Jeb Bush has never been a fan of gambling. But that isn't stopping the state's tax-supported tourism promotion agency from touting a casino ship as a spectacular reason to visit the Sunshine State. This month, Visit Florida, the state's official tourism marketing corporation, is pitching in news releases the Sterling Casino Lines as one of the "Top Ten Unique Experiences in Florida."

The promotion comes as the Florida Legislature prepares for a Dec. 5 special session at which Bush wants legislators to tackle a voter-approved constitutional amendment calling for slot machines in Broward County. The governor and conservatives in the Legislature have been so opposed to any expansion of gambling in the state that legislators refused to deal with the amendment earlier this year. Some legislators are even hoping to pass a repeal of the pro-gambling mandate.

But what's galling to some gambling critics is that Visit Florida, an $80-million-a-year public-private tourism agency funded in part with state car-rental taxes, is promoting "Las Vegas-style entertainment" -- and it doesn't even take place in Florida. Though the ship docks in Port Canaveral in Brevard County, the Sterling Casino Lines & best Online Casino, which is the No. 2 listed item on the "Unique Experiences" promotion, offers gambling while the vessel sails in international waters where gambling is allowed.



Reported by: sun-sentinel.com

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