|Plans are underway to open a riverboat casino in Port Richey. The proposal to open the casino, which could hold as many as 3,000 people, is currently under review by Florida legislators.|
Mollie Kolokithas proposed the plan in a bid to cash in on the possible relaxation of gambling restrictions in the state of Florida. The permanently docked boat would be run by her family business, Paradise of Port Richey, which owns the local SunCruz casino boat operation. However Kolokithas insists that if the casino goes ahead it would be run as a non-profit organization. All money made would go to the city and county in order to directly contribute to local public projects.
Florida voters have previously rejected moves to expand legalized gambling, raising both moral and environmental issues against relaxation in the law. Yet despite their reluctance it is clear that it is their community that would gain in the long term. Gambling would bring more jobs, business and tourists to the area.
Redevelopment of the waterfront is a major concern of the council who are looking for new ways to lure visitors and inject money into the city. Nevertheless they clearly wish to qualm public fears that Port Richey will become a new gambling haven. As Mayor Eloise Taylor says: “I am not interested in the city of Port Richey becoming a gambling Mecca.'
To whatever extent gambling is relaxed it is clear that the city could do with the much needed cash the gambling business would bring. Not only could it help curb property taxes in Port Richey but it would also help alleviate a $4 billion deficit in the state’s budget next year. Dale Massad, councilman, is certainly not ready to dismiss the proposal made by Kolokithas: “I think we would be absolutely negligent not to look down every avenue.”