FORT MYERS, Fla.- Plans to turn Florida into an East Coast gambling destination are on hold. A bill aimed at expanding gaming resorts in the state died in the House today.
The broad legislation would have granted licensing to three major casinos in the Miami area. But the bitter gambling debate didn't end in Tallahassee on Friday. Plans are still in the works to build a billion-dollar gaming resort in Fort Myers.
Champion Development says they're in the beginning stages of planning the destination resort in The Forum off Colonial Boulevard. Blueprints of the facility boast 1,500 hotel rooms and will bring as many as 15,000 construction jobs alone to Lee County.
A spokesperson for the company says the gaming bill's demise in the house on Friday won't stop their plans. They're currently gathering petition signatures so Lee County voters will have a say in November on whether or not they want the gaming resort in their backyard.
"We're not disheartened about what happened today at all. We're respecting it and we look forward to the vote in 2012 to show the Legislature that the people of Lee County, the people of Southwest Florida want a destination resort, we want 15,000 new jobs," said Champion Development Corp. Spokesperson Phil Nichols.
In order to put the issue on November ballots, Champion Development needs 24,000 signatures from registered Lee County voters. They say they'll use the results of the vote, to support a bill in the 2013 Legislative session.