With the arrival of Malaysia’s Genting in Miami and the proposed legislation to allow three casino licences in South Florida comes the expected rallying of opposing forces. The ‘no expanded gambling in Florida’ lobby has reconvened under the umbrella company “No Casinos Inc.” This dormant organisation has been activated by its president John Sowinski, an Orlando-based public relations consultant. Luther Campbell, writing in the Miami New Times, suggests that a Genting casino would kill Miami and Miami Beach attractions.
Campbell’s argument is that Genting will bring top restaurants, top performers and top shows to its resort, thereby killing the surrounding fine dining and entertainment businesses. This would probably occur to greater or lesser extent whether Genting is granted a casino licence or not. Campbell states that a better option would be to help the existing hotels, struggling in the present economic situation, by allowing them to house casinos.
According to Sowinski, ‘No Casinos Inc’ will partner with faith-based organisations, business groups and law enforcement to fight the proposed casino legislation. Many in the theme park resorts of Orlando in Central Florida traditionally have opposed gambling expansion. Resort casinos proposed for Miami-Dade and Broward also could have a detrimental effect on revenue at the pari-mutuel slots operations and therefore likely to provoke opposition by these businesses to altering the law. The Seminole casinos could lose trade and resort casinos certainly would affect their payment for exclusivity agreements with the state.
The Genting planned development is said to bring the prospect of some 30,000 permanent jobs to Florida. The two legislators sponsoring the bill to allow three South Florida resort casinos believe they could bring thousands of tourists to the area. Genting Group Chairman and Chief Executive KT Lim says the iconic design of its resort, as yet unapproved by city planners, will lure visitors to Miami.
The battle groups are forming but on the whole the comments from Miami residents are favourable towards allowing resort casinos, whether on the Genting site in Biscayne Bay or elsewhere. One thing is sure, if the proposed bill gets the support it needs in the Florida House and Senate there will be plenty of interest from the big casino companies and prime sites in the Miami-Dade and Broward areas will be at a premium. (E-09.20.11)
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