Boss game enough to play AC

Mar 11, 2003 2:46 AM

New Jersey music legend Bruce Springsteen finally played Atlantic City last week, perhaps softening a long-believed stance that he was anti-gaming.

The Cherry Hill (N.J.) Courier Post reported that while the Freehold-born rock icon bears no apparent ill-feeling toward Atlantic City, an argument could be made that he doesn’t care much for the gaming industry.

The Courier Post reported last November that before agreeing to stage last Friday night’s concert at Boardwalk Hall, Springsteen rejected offers from at least one casino company that wanted to bring him into Boardwalk Hall because he doesn’t want to be sponsored by a gaming company.

Also, the terms of his deal with Philadelphia-based promoter Clear Channel Entertainment prohibits the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority from holding back tickets for casino high rollers. The NJSEA operates Boardwalk Hall.

Steve Gietka, vice president of entertainment for Trump Hotels, said the subject wasn’t brought up during efforts to bring the Boss to the 5,000-seat Arena at Trump Taj Mahal.

"There was never any indication to me that casinos were the issue," Gietka said. "He didn’t tell me, ”˜You’re a casino, you’re wasting your time.’ "

Springsteen, 53, reportedly turned down Trump Taj Mahal because the venue was too small. He did play the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in May 2000.

Slot frenzy in Florida

Owners of Florida’s existing betting parlors are making the most serious push in years to bring casino-style slots to the state.

The Palm Beach Post reports that parimutuel gambling interests from so-called "video lottery terminals," could provide the state $1.2 billion or more in new money, without having to raise taxes.

In return, the 26 active dog tracks, horse tracks and jai-alai frontons would see a windfall as large as $2 billion, some of which would be shared with dog and horse breeders.

"We have gambling in Florida," said Hollywood Greyhound Track lobbyist Luis Rojas, a former House member from Miami. "Right now they’re taking that money and they’re paying no taxes."

The parimutuels have an important ally in Tallahassee, the state capital.

Senate President Jim King, one of the three most powerful elected officials in Florida for the next two years, has been a perennial supporter of gambling interests.

Gaming proponents pushed for slots in 1999 as a way to revive parimutuels and generate more tax money for schools and the elderly, but Gov. Jeb Bush said he would veto any such bill.

Bush still opposes an expansion of gambling, though his position is believed to be softening. Past gambling bills have failed several times on a statewide level.