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Will Gambling Be Expanded into Southwest Florida and Lee County?

Bonita Springs is growing and becoming a go-to destination in Lee County. This growth brings with it new – and controversial – issues that are being debated as we speak.

The latest issue? Gambling and whether or not it should be expanded throughout Lee County.

Last year, voters across the county voted “yes” for a referendum that supported adding slot machines to certain gambling institutions currently in place, like the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track. That is important because slot machines have been heavily restricted in Florida, mainly due to an agreement the state of Florida has with the Seminole Tribe.

So far, though, the referendum hasn’t been followed up by a bill in the state legislature. The legislature and the governor would both have to support the bill to make it pass into law.

Why is this a key issue for the community? Gambling, for starters, is a pretty controversial issue. While there are gambling opportunities in Lee County already, these aren’t what you would call “casino-style” gambling – such as slots, card games, and the like.

Those – especially slots – are only located in casinos owned and operated by the Seminole Tribe. Opening up the possibility for slots in Lee County would offer a new source of revenue for communities in Southwest Florida and could pave the road for a casino based in the county itself.

Of course, gambling is viewed by many as an immoral vice that should be restricted. Plus, some have concerns about the impact gambling has on crime.

Lee County voters have spoken, though. Residents of Bonita Springs, in the near future, could very well have a new form of entertainment available to them only a short distance away if the state decides to back the will of the people and allow expanded gambling to come to our neck of the woods.