• Gambling becomes part of the conversation in Volusia County


    DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Gov. Rick Scott was in Volusia County Friday, touting tourism and jobs. Both are important to the county, and now, gambling has become part of the local conversation.

    Scott breezed through the county Friday, making stops in places like DeLand, Port Orange and on the boardwalk of Daytona Beach. The trip to Daytona Beach included a stop at the new Sandblaster roller coaster for a special ribbon cutting.

    "I love it when people create a new experience, new memory, for people to come to Florida," said Scott.

    Scott was in town as three major hotels are moving forward with plans to build in Daytona Beach, including the Hard Rock, which has a phase two that representatives say could accommodate gambling, if it should become legalized.

    Representatives with the Daytona International Speedway, which is currently being renovated, said they would also explore that opportunity.

    "Do you think gambling would be a good fit for Florida and places like Daytona?" Channel 9 reporter Blaine Tolison asked Scott.

    "Well, here's what I know: The legislature is looking at that. The Senate's having hearings on that. Or I guess you've put together a task force, so we'll see what happens," said Scott.

    State Sen. Dorothy Hukill, who represents Volusia County, said the Senate Gaming Committee is expected to come up with recommendations for expanding gambling in Florida, possibly by early next year. Right now, both Hukill and Scott said they are focused on tourism and jobs.

    "What I'm excited about, 91 million tourists last year -- I think it's 49 million tourists already this year. I look forward to hopefully this year or next year [as] we get close to hitting 100 million tourists," Scott said.

    "That's the hallmark of his administration, and that will only benefit Florida and specifically benefit Volusia County," said Hukill.

    Hukill said there are many things for that committee to consider, such as the current forms of gambling, like dog tracks and jai alai and the agreement with the Seminole tribe of Florida.

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    Gambling becomes part of the conversation in Volusia County