February 29, 2024
Today's forecast: Partly sunny, with a high near 79° and a low around 72°.
Sounds like: "Siesta Freestyle" by Lewis OfMan and Alicia Te Quiero.
This newsletter is 852 words — a 3.2-minute read.
1 big thing: Calls to gambling helpline spike amid legal sports betting
Why it matters: The data is one way to gauge the immediate impact sports betting has had on gambling behavior, addiction and available resources for those affected.
By the numbers: The Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, which operates the helpline, tells Axios that calls increased over 100% from December to January.
- Online gambling exploded 135% between 2019 and 2023, per 888-ADMIT-IT helpline data. The helpline also saw spikes in illegal electronic gambling, like internet sweepstakes.
Flashback: The Seminole Tribe of Florida launched sports betting at its casinos and on the Hard Rock Bet mobile app in December after a two-year delay due to legal challenges.
The big picture: Florida was first in the U.S. for calls to problem gambling helplines in 2021, and that trend shows no sign of abating.
- The council is projecting about 40,000 calls this year, up from around 26,000 last year and about 23,000 in 2021.
What we're watching: Florida's gambling boom has outpaced funding for addressing its fallout. The state ranked 34th out of 44 states in per capita public funds earmarked for problem gambling services.
- The council says its staff can handle the current call volume but may need more help if the trend continues.
- They are recommending that all gambling operators in Florida participate in the prevention program to ensure fairness in the "provision of problem gambling services and funding."
The other side: "Hard Rock Bet is committed to player safety and responsible gambling," Gary Bitner, a spokesperson for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, tells Axios.
- "The Seminole Tribe contributes annually as the largest funder of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling," he adds.
Your future begins here
2. 🗓️ Why we need leap day
We have an extra day this year: Today is leap day.
Why it matters: If we didn't have leap days, then the months and the seasons would stop lining up the same way every year, Axios' Carly Mallenbaum and Erin Davis write.
- "The days of our years would start slipping and … our winters would become summers and our summers would become winters and everything would get messed up," planetary geologist Bob Craddock tells Axios.
Zoom in: Spring would shift to starting in July within 425 years.
How it works: We have a leap year with an extra leap day to "catch up" to the length of time the Earth takes to orbit the Sun, Craddock says.
- It doesn't take exactly 365 days for the Earth to complete an orbit — it takes almost six hours more than that.
Yes, but: An every-four-years leap year does not perfectly account for the extra time it takes the Earth to complete an orbit.
- That's why there's another rule about adding days: If a year is divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400, then we skip leap year.
- That means that we had a leap year in 2000, but the next leap year we skip is 2100.
3. Cafecito: Another measles case reported
🗣️ Miami Beach City Attorney Rafael Paz and parking director Monica Beltran announced their resignation and retirement, respectively, this week, joining the handful of other city officials to announce departures since late January. (Miami Herald)
- The announcements come just a few months after the elections of a new mayor and three commissioners.
The Miami Seaquarium's head veterinarian is resigning, and county officials were uncertain as of yesterday whether her departure will leave the troubled facility without any vets on staff. (Local 10)
- Federal agriculture inspectors wrote in November the facility had a "single veterinarian ... employed to care for the 46 marine mammals, 50 birds, and hundreds of fish, sharks and rays" housed there.
🏫 Broward County School District Superintendent Peter Licata last year was tasked with developing a plan to close or overhaul at least five schools for the 2025–26 school year.
- But on Tuesday, he told school board members he preferred to close a large number of schools at one time, and the final number of closures could far surpass the initial handful of campuses. (Sun Sentinel)
🤒 Another case of measles was confirmed in Broward County on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases in the county to nine, according to the Florida Department of Health. (WSVN)
4. 🤩 Spotted: The Fresh Prince himself
When we told you yesterday that the new "Bad Boys" sequel was being filmed this week in Miami, we had no intention of crashing the shoot.
- But while the Axios Miami team was giving editors Jeff and Kristen a tour of the city, we wound up face-to-face with the star himself.
What he's saying: Kristen, alone among the group in maintaining her composure, asked Smith how it was going. His reply: "All is lovely," as he got in the driver's seat of a black Porsche on Brickell Avenue.
The latest: The production will be in town through the weekend. Here's where to expect road closures (and, maybe, spot a friendly movie star):
- Southwest Second Avenue and Second Street from 6am–10pm on Friday.
- The Southwest Second Avenue bridge between Third and Eighth streets from 7am–6:30pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Martin thinks the streaking Miami Heat will make it back to the NBA Finals this year.
Sommer thinks she and Jimmy Butler would be the best of friends.
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This newsletter was edited by Jeff Weiner and copy edited by Egan Millard and Anjelica Tan.