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Mayor Curry Pitches Las Vegas Sands For Jacksonville

John Locher
Associated Press
The Sands Expo and Convention Center and The Palazzo in Las Vegas are pictured in this file photo.

As the Las Vegas Sands casino operation contributes $17 million to a political war chest for a 2022 Florida constitutional amendment push to bring casino gambling to North Florida, Mayor Lenny Curry is going on the record in favor of bringing a Sands location to Jacksonville.

Curry tweeted Thursday morning, “I look forward to talking with gaming leaders about our potential & why we are the right choice for @LasVegasSands.”

The mayor’s tweet comes following the formation of a political action committee (PAC) with a $17 million donation filed with a June 28 filing date from the Las Vegas Sands Corp.

Called Florida Voters In Charge, the committee, with a Jacksonville Beach address, has drafted two proposed constitutional amendments that would allow casino gambling in the northern part of Florida, according to WJCT News partner The Florida Times-Union.

Sarah Bascom, who heads a Tallahassee political communications firm, told the Times-Union:

"The two proposed ballot initiatives are options we are exploring, specifically focusing on bringing casino gaming and the accompanying economic development to North Florida," Bascom said, adding the proposed amendments would not violate the state’s recent gambling agreement with the Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Florida Voters In Charge documents show the committee’s treasurer is Erika Alba and the deputy treasurer is Kevin Hyde. They are attorneys at the Foley & Lardner LLP law firm, which has a Jacksonville office at 1 Independent Drive. Foley & Lardner is an international law firm based in Milwaukee.

Florida Politics, which originally broke the story, obtained copies of both proposed amendments. One would allow license holders to operate casinos if they are at least 130 miles away from tribal lands, which Jacksonville is. The other proposal would allow up to three new casinos in the state.

“Jax is now a top destination for sports entertainment & I welcome the opportunity to add gaming to what @cityofjaxhas to offer,” Curry said in his tweet.

Nikki Kimbleton, a spokeswoman for Mayor Curry, told WJCT News Thursday morning he had no further comments to add at this point. "The mayor has not been part of the discussions thus far, but once he is and we get further in the process, we will be happy to speak," Kimbleton said.  

Duval and Clay counties already have limited legal gambling operations. Best Betoperates locations in Jacksonville’s Regency area and Orange Park that offer poker, simulcast wagering and card games.

WJCT News has reached out to  Bascom and Florida Voters In Charge. This story will be updated if any responses are received.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.