Genting shifts course on casino plans in South Florida, hinges hopes on legislative cooperation

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Genting Resorts World MiamiMalaysian gambling company Genting Group still has hopes of entering South Florida where they can set up Resort World Miami, their latest multibillion-dollar resort casino. Only this time, the company is shifting course and changing plans midstream.

Instead of asking voters in the 2014 elections to let them build the resort casino, Genting has decided to hinge its hopes on the outcome of the state Legislature’s planned two-year look at gambling. All things considered, Genting is hoping that the state itself will legalize destination casinos, which in turn could pave the way for them to finally set foot in Miami.

The move, in itself, is far from a slam dunk because Genting will have to rely on state lawmakers to make a decision to change existing state laws. Not exactly the most calculated of gambles, but as far as the company is concerned, it’s a better option than having to wait two years on a vote that has a strong chance of getting debunked. Earlier this year, the company already went through that road, only to fail on its efforts to win approval, especially after the company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on campaign donations. An incident involving Genting chairman Colin Au swearing in front of a Senate committee after making their elaborate pitch certainly didn’t help their cause.

John Sowinski, an Orlando-based consultant who runs No Casinos Inc., told the Sentinel: “In seven months they spent nearly $1 million on polling and lawyers — that’s nearly 25 years’ wage for the average Floridian — and learned what we have said all along — that Florida voters don’t want economic havoc, addiction and crime that mega-casinos would bring.”

And so, the Malaysian gambling company is calling an audible, a decision lobbyist Brian Ballard told the Orlando Sentinel “makes absolute sense”, referring to a collaborative effort between Genting and the House and Senate committees.

All that was made more evident after recent meetings with Senate President Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, and House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, prompting Genting to decide that the best way to move forward was to participate in the legislature’s gambling overview, which could take place in 2014.

Regardless of what new steps Genting takes in their quest to land in South Florida, what appears evident is that they’re hitching their wagons on the most plausible scenario of the lot. The company has invested a lot to be in the position they’re in and anything short of seeing their glistening multi-billion dollar casino resort on what is currently the Miami Herald building open shop in the future will be considered a massive disappointment.

Then again, that’s why they’re in the business of gambling.


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