• Activist group against casinos in Florida to release documentary


    ORLANDO, Fla. - An activist group's new documentary against casinos that's expected to heat up the debate over gambling policies in Florida will debut next week.

    The group No Casinos will be debuting the 30-minute documentary in Orlando. It's an issue that state legislators are expected to talk a lot about when the session starts in Tallahassee at the beginning of March.

    WFTV obtained an advance copy of the documentary, "Pushing Luck." It's produced by the political activist group No Casinos and its leader, John Sowinski, said it shows the negative impact of gambling in casino meccas like Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

    "There's an awful lot we in Florida have at stake and that's why we'll keep pushing things out and working hard against it," Sowinski said.

    The documentary is scheduled to premiere at theaters across Florida during the last week in February, ahead of the legislative session.

    Governor Rick Scott said in August he would rely on legislative direction to decide whether gambling is a good fit for places like Daytona Beach's new Hard Rock Hotel.

    So far there are no bills filed in the House or Senate's gaming committees. But Sowinski said they want to spread the word before legislation is introduced.

    "We're ramping up in the hopes of raising public awareness so that people know this is an issue and they call on their legislators to stop these gambling interests in their tracks that want to bring gambling to Florida," Sowinski said.

    There's some talk that a bill may soon be filed in the Senate regarding casinos. Channel 9's Karla Ray reached out to Senate gaming committee Chair Garrett Richter for comment, but he did not respond.

    WFTV political analyst Rick Foglesong said despite No Casinos' effort to raise public awareness, there's still political lobbying going on behind the scenes.

    "The No Casinos group is trying a different strategy of appealing directly to the public with a documentary, while the pro-casino people are playing the inside game of lobbying and political contributions," Foglesong said.

    Screenings of the documentary "Pushing Luck" are scheduled on Monday in Orlando.

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