Miami Beach Files Legal Brief against Genting Group’s Casino Plans
Miami Beach has filed legal papers which oppose Genting Group’s plan to build a casino-resort in downtown Miami. The filings are in response to Genting’s own lawsuit against Miami-Dade County and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle.
Genting’s lawsuit is an effort to get the legal right to develop a casino in the Omni area, a spot in downtown Miami which includes the Miami Herald’s old headquarters. The Miami Herald described the lawsuit filed by the Malaysia-based multinational conglomerate to be a “last-ditch effort” to open a South Florida casino.
Miami Beach’s Reason for Filing
Miami Beach was not a part of the original lawsuit. By filing a “friend of the court” brief, Miami Beach is able to weigh in on the issue. It briefs states that the city of Miami Beach would suffer “negative economic and social consequences“, if the casino ever were to open. Those negative consequences include increased traffic, higher crime rates, and a decline in tourism for local businesses.
The Beach is one of several entities which opposes South Florida casinos. The Disney Company opposes the establishment of a private casino industry, because it argues the expansion in gaming culture would affect Disney’s attempts to depict Florida as a family-tourism destination. The Seminole Tribe of Florida opposes South Florida casinos, because the state’s sole major casino interest does not want the competition.
South Florida Casinos
Miami-area residents have debated the building of Miami casinos for several years. Many object to the possibility of rampant crime, while others believe slot machines take limited funds from low-income residents. Businesses do not want the additional traffic, while tourist-centered businesses and entertainment venues do not want the competition.
Genting Group would be a formidable rival, if ever the proposed Resorts World Miami was developed. Genting not only owns a global gambling empire, but the Malaysian corporation also owns oil platforms and banana plantations.
The company has vast resources compared to most casino operations, so much so that it is currently building the most expensive casino in the history of Las Vegas. When Resorts World Las Vegas is completed, it will cost more than $4 billion.
Genting Group and Las Vegas Sands Corp. each have lobbied to have Miami casinos licensed at the state level, but the lobbying efforts have failed. Florida is still a southern state, despite the yearly influx of senior citizens and immigrants. Most southern states do not license land-based casinos, based on moral objections. Instead, the state allows tribal gaming which is out of its direct control, along with racetrack betting in order to save the horse and dog training industries.
Florida’s Political Leaders
Florida lawmakers have been loathe to expand the casino economy in recent years. Gov. Rick Scott negotiated a 20-year gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe in 2015. That compact calls for $3 billion for the State of Florida in the first 7 years of the compact. In exchange, the tribe gains a virtual casino monopoly, though racetracks were able to add some slot machines and limited table games to their repertoire of games.
Because the language used in the compact allows the Seminoles to stop paying gaming taxes if the state expands certain types of casino gambling, a Genting casino in Miami would be a danger to the state’s revenue streams. If for no other reason, lawmakers are not likely to approve a South Florida casino under the current legal framework.
Giving Up on South Florida Casinos
Sheldon Adelson saw the writing on the wall and pulled his lobbyists out of the state. Instead, the founder of Las Vegas Sands Corporation is focusing his ambitions on Georgia gambling.
Genting Group decided to pursue one other step: the Florida court system. If a judge finds the Florida gaming law is illegal or unconstitutional, then he or she might strike down a discriminatory ban on casino gambling.
That is the thought process, anyway. As a general rule, state legislatures and state-level court systems tend to side on the same side as the local brick-and-mortar casino industry. That explains why licensing is often fraught with controversy, while so few states allow online and mobile gambling. The local industry (in this case the Seminoles) generate a lot of revenue.
That is why most local pundits believe Genting Group is on its last legal leg.
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