Florida violence tied to gaming?

January 15, 2002 7:52 AM
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“Casinos are coming,” wrote a Florida resident to the South Florida South Sentinel, adding, “it’s not a matter of if, it’s merely a matter of when.”

The writer cited the need to jump-start the economy and noted that “a prohibition to gaming does not stop Floridians and our tourists from filling up cruise-to-nowhere boats (23 throughout Florida), five Native Americans casinos (24 hours seven days), and Internet casinos (no Florida taxes, jobs or construction with that).”

But some are wondering just how safe gaming is nowadays. Especially, noting that Gus Boulis, the Greek entrepreneur who was responsible for the establishment of the gaming cruise ships, was gunned down last February near his Fort Lauderdale offices. And, just last week, Jim Shore, the general counsel for the Seminole Tribe, and a tribal leader that has helped the Seminoles establish a giant casino empire in Florida, was shot through a sliding glass door of his house in northwest Hollywood.

Boulis reportedly had stepped on toes while establishing his SunCruz casino boat fleet in Florida. Shore is credited with engineering the tribal council’s ouster of its previous chairman, James Billie, whose lifestyle had riled a number of Seminole tribal leaders.

Shore survived the shooting. Although law enforcement officials refused to link the incident to gaming, it underscored what expanded gambling supporters have been demanding. And, that is, strong regulatory control over an industry that has none.