Genting Attempts, Desperate, Hail-Mary Lawsuit to Force through a New Florida Casino; City Aid for Major Steps Down from Genting in Disagreement

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many failed attempts by Genting to construct a new, Vegas-style, destination resort casino in Florida. Most of the attempts have come through the Florida legislature, but those stopped a few years ago when they decided to go the route of initiative petition to get the issue put on the ballot for the state voters to vote on. They finally dropped that petition and decided to buy the Herald Building in Miami and partner with pari-mutuel company Gulfstream in hopes of forcing the hand of local officials. Many organizations fought the move and it worked. Now they are making a final, desperate attempt to use the courts to get their casino in place. The Miami Herald’s Fabio Santiago’s op-ed plainly calls the case frivolous and a waste of time and cites others who indicate the negative impact on the community:

The gambling resorts giant insists on bringing casino operations to the waterfront downtown Miami property it purchased in 2011 in the Omni area, where the defunct OmniMall used to cater to luxury shoppers and The Miami Herald building proudly stood. The area, now a thriving arts district, is not territory poised to become gamblers’ row. But the Malaysian casino refuses to take no for an answer from local authorities, voters or the state.

After spending millions in political campaigns — and losing legislative battles to expand gaming in a way that would allow them to build the massive casino resort —– Genting’s Resorts World Omni is suing Miami-Dade County and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle to force the state to allow card games and slots in the old Omni mall space.

They’ve concocted a deal to get around a 2014 denial by state regulators to move a Gulfstream Park pari-mutuel permit to the Omni, and they’re asking a judge to declare it lawful — and to pre-empt police and prosecutors from filing criminal charges against what would be illegal Omni casino operators.

Really? Enough already. Go away, Genting. Flip the land while it’s a boom market. The bust is always around the corner in South Florida’s storied real estate history. Take the money and run while you can.

“It seems to be like a last ditch effort to get a slot house in Miami-Dade,” Frank Nero, president of Beacon Global Advisors, told me. “Destination Casinos have no real positive economic impact but slot houses, which this will be, are the worst. They prey upon the poor and elderly. Not exactly the high rollers from Asia on chartered flights that Genting initially promised. These type operations do not bring in incremental revenue. They tap into the existing tourism and locals disposable income. They need Miami-Dade. We do not need them, as we already have a vibrant tourism industry with high occupancy and high room rates that are among the best in the country.”

Their Tallahassee lawyers don’t think so, but the Genting lawsuit smacks of nothing but desperation.

The suit isn’t even universally accepting in the Genting ranks and has now forced an aid to Miami-Dade major Carlos Gimenez, Jesse Manzano-Plaza to step down from his consulting role with Genting. The Miami Herald explains: 

A top campaign official for Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has ended his role as a consultant for Genting, an abrupt change that came after the casino giant sued the county to force acceptance of a new slots parlor in downtown Miami.

Jesse Manzano-Plaza, who runs the day-to-day operations for Gimenez’s reelection effort, said Tuesday he stopped being a Genting consultant last week after years of working for the Malaysia-based company.

Gimenez this week said he’s against Genting’s plan to bring slot machines and card games to the old Omni mall. The slots plan — first unveiled in 2014 but recently brought back into the spotlight because of the suit —represents a dramatically scaled-down version of the casino resort that the company first proposed when it purchased the old Miami Herald headquarters and Omni complex in 2011.

“I’m not in favor of that kind of additional gambling here in Miami-Dade County,” Gimenez said of Genting’s slots plan. “I don’t think at this point it would help. I don’t think that was the original intent of Genting.” 

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