Casino Watch Focus has reported on the many ongoing attempts, and subsequent failures, of gambling giant Genting to get a mega Las Vegas style casino legalized in Miami. They failed through the Florida legislature. They failed through a voter petition initiative. They have purchased land and tried to collaborate with a local pari-mutuel company in hopes of influencing local politicians. They even attempted to use the courts to sue to state to allow them to offer gambling card games. That Hail Mary was surprisingly unsuccessful as well. Now, the Genting group is trying another approach and once again, local politicians see exactly what they are hoping to accomplish. An online source reports on their new play:
Genting and its gaming brand Resorts World has long been trying to build a multibillion-dollar casino resort on 30 acres of land it paid $236 million for in 2011. No change in state law has come to allow the commercial casino to move forward, but that hasn’t stopped the Malaysian-based gaming and hospitality corporation from continuing to invest in the area.
Genting is in the final approval stages to build a 300-room hotel tower and residential apartment building over the expanded Omni Station bus terminal located on the property. Now, Genting is offering to fund construction of a monorail line that would connect downtown Miami to Miami Beach at a cost of $48 million per mile.
The Miami-Dade County Commission did vote to open the bid process for companies wanting to construct a new monorail, but officials point out that there is no guarantee they would be awarded the contract. The Miami Herald reports:
Genting kept its monorail plan alive Wednesday when Miami-Dade commissioners accepted the casino company’s proposal to launch a bidding contest for building a tax-funded transit system across Biscayne Bay, linking Miami with South Beach.
In a 9-3 vote, commissioners approved [Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos] Gimenez’s request to launch a bidding process sometime in the fall. Genting and rivals would then have six months to respond to the county’s request for proposals. After the deadline, the county could accept one of the proposals or reject them all and start again.
Others have rejected the notion that this a fair bid process and believe the fact that Genting already has a full proposal means other companies won’t even engage in the bid process. The Miami Herald continues:
Commissioners Jean Monestime, Xavier Suarez and Rebeca Sosa voted No. Commissioner Barbara Jordan was not present for the vote. She is part of a delegation with the Transportation Planning Organization visiting transit options in Asia, including the monorail that Genting partner BYD operates in China. Sosa raised concerns about Miami-Dade turning to a company with China ties for a transit project. “I want to see if they have any relations with a country that can be adverse to the United States,” she said.
Commissioner Joe Martinez said launching a competition in response to Genting’s proposal is going to make other transportation developers less likely to compete.
“You want it clean? Reject it,” Martinez said of the Genting proposal that the county received in May. He said Miami-Dade should start with its own process to solicit bids for the Beach corridor, and not be restrained by the confidentiality rules hovering over the Genting proposal. “Everyone starts at Ground Zero,” he said.
Despite the Commission moving the proposal along, and theoretically opening the process up to other bidders, many still question the notion of doing business with a company with clear ulterior motives. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber made it very clear in a letter to the Miami Herald, that even if Genting were to win this monorail bid, Miami Beach would still reject a new casino.
[M]ost or all of the city’s commission will strenuously object to any plan that might allow for, or even contemplate, a casino that is placed nearby or tethered to our community. I believe casino gambling is an existential threat to our community fabric and our quality of life, which is why I have opposed it as a state representative, state senator, and now mayor. Recently, when we approved our new Convention Center Hotel, we didn’t merely prohibit gaming in the facility, we also required that any developer of the project not maintain gaming interests.
For more information on the dangers of gambling, please visit CASINO WATCH & CASINO WATCH FOUNDATION