Florida Gambling deal between Genting and Gulfstream Criticized

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many efforts of Genting Group to expand gambling in Florida.  They have been involved in efforts to establish full-blown Vegas-style gambling casinos to cruises and land deals.  Now, as the details of a deal between Genting and Gulfstream is being reported, public and other critism is surfacing.  The Miami Herald provides some background and outlines why Genting faces such critics in Florida:

Genting, which three years ago proposed bringing a massive casino resort to the Miami waterfront, recently acquired a racetrack license it says allows for a modest 2,000-machine slot parlor on its land holdings. Its plans to start construction on a new hotel and condo complex at the old Miami Herald headquarters are now at least a year behind schedule. As Genting continues to tout gambling’s potential in Florida, it is making headlines for laying off 175 restaurant workers at its casino in New York.

The Malaysian-based company sued the federal government this fall in an effort to continue using foreign labor for a Miami-based casino ship offering overnight gambling cruises in international waters. On Friday, a federal judge ruled against Genting‘s request to overturn orders by immigration officials to either stop the cruises or hire U.S. workers as crew.

“The same company that promised to create 100,000 jobs is now suing the federal government to try and exploit foreign workers at subpar wages rather than hire Floridians,’’ said John Sowinski, the Orlando-based campaign consultant who heads up the No Casinos advocacy group. “It shows how big a lie the jobs argument is.”

The Tallahassee Democrat explains the current deal and outlines various obstacles:

Under the proposal, Resorts World Omni, a division of Malaysian-based Genting Group, would operate 2,000 slot machines and a poker room at a hotel on Biscayne Bay. The slot machine license would be associated with a permit owned by a nonprofit linked to Gulfstream, where the horse races would continue to run.

But the deal, first reported by The News Service of Florida on Tuesday, would also cost the state a portion of the gambling revenues it receives from the Seminole Indians, according to one of the crafters of the agreement with the tribe.

[O]pening a casino in downtown Miami would be a disaster, said Sen. Gwen Margolis, a Miami Democrat who sent a letter to Senate President Don Gaetz on Thursday objecting to the plan.

Margolis noted that the Resorts World property, in the center of her Senate district, is situated within two blocks of two museums, two performing arts centers and an arena in an already-congested area of Miami.

“It’s outrageous,” Margolis told the News Service.

Florida legislators aren’t the only one’s taking notice of the proposed plan.  No Casinos was quoted in the Tallahassee Democrat and expressed concern:

Genting has “a ton of gall” for coming to the Legislature with the current plan after lawmakers rejected proposals for casino-style resorts in South Florida two years ago, said John Sowinski, president of No Casinos, a group that has long fought against expanded gambling.

And, Sowinski said, Genting is “essentially thumbing their noses at the voters” who approved a 2006 constitutional amendment that opened the door for slots at tracks and frontons in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Voters believed all the gambling activities would be under the same roof, Sowinski said.

“It’s sort of a give an inch, take a mile routine. This is not what voters approved. Not only do we oppose it but we think it’s an affront to the voters of Florida,” he said.

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