Latest News
10/16/11 TO 10/22/11

Arsht Center: Gambling resort needs to up the ante
FL - Genting executives acknowledged that the Resorts World Miami team is working with the Arsht Center and its consultants. A joint proposal to deal with traffic issues is expected within two or three weeks, said Colin Au, president of Genting Americas. Traffic Infrastructure: Rebuilding I-395 immediately to coincide with any development of a destination resort on The Herald site, rather than waiting for the state Department of Transportation. The Town Square group has hired a Boston traffic engineering firm to design a new system of ramps, winding highways and more that could help address the situation, which is already near gridlock at peak times. Design: Adjusting the scale and architectural design of Resorts World Miami so it does not dwarf the Arsht Center and the rest of the neighborhood. As presented, just the pedestal of the project with the casino, retail, restaurants and convention center would be taller than the Arsht Center, not including the four high-rise hotels that would sit on top of the pedestal. / 10.21.11

Blunt-talking Genting president determined to close gambling casino deal in Tallahassee
FL - It is a lazy, rainy day in Tallahassee and Colin Au, the president of Genting Americas, has arrived in town on a mission -- to meet with every one of the state's 180 legislators to explain why Miami needs a "destination resort" with one of the world's biggest casinos. In a wide-ranging interview with the Herald/Times last week, Au responded to concerns, pointedly countered rumors that his company is anti-Semitic and associated with the Chinese mob, and offered a window into the company's legislative strategy. Rep. Steve Precourt, a Republican from theme-park rich Orlando, has heard Genting's pitch and doesn't buy it. "Look at the new gambling efforts around the country --from Atlantic City to Biloxi -- and any of those new entrants have horribly cannibalized the local economy,'' said Precourt, chairman of the House Finance and Tax Committee. He predicts that resort casinos "will put a whole bunch of hotel and restaurants out of business and it won't be limited to the local economy.'' he said. He said the attempts to lure convention business to the mega-resorts will sap Orlando's "bread-and-butter convention business" and then "take huge profits out of the community." The plan is to capture one-third of the estimated 13 million East Coast tourists who visit Las Vegas and 80 to 90 percent of the Hispanic market on the East Coast, Au said. There, (Singapore) residents are discouraged from gambling with a government-imposed $100 casino entrance fee levied every 24 hours. Nick Iarossi, lobbyist for the Las Vegas Sands and Genting's competitor in the resort casinos business, believes Au "is trying to backpedal some'' from the company's claims that it will build 5,100 hotel rooms and 50 restaurants. "They are realizing the local business owners in Miami are very nervous about the size of the Genting project and nervous about the competition,'' he said. Au said Genting supports the effort by South Florida's horse and dog tracks and jai alai frontons to get parity in tax rates and games. "Philosophically, it's the right thing to do,'' he said. But, politically, his advice to them is to remove some slot machines when they install other games "to solve the expanding [gambling] footprint" that will occur because of the introduction of casinos. Miami businessman Norman Braman questioned Genting's ties to the government of Malaysia, where the company has a gambling monopoly, telling a Miami television station: "Just Google 'Malaysia' and 'anti-Semitism.' I imagine that this company has a very close relationship with the government and that concerns me," Braman said. / 10.22.11

Casino bill ups the ante for lobbyists and lawmakers
FL - If you believe the hype coming out of the GOP, government doesn't create jobs, but Bogdanoff and fellow Republican state Rep. Erik Fressen, R-Miami, didn't get the memo. The two are putting the finishing touches on an omnibus gambling bill that, in the words of one veteran capitol staffer, " ... is the biggest money bill the Legislature's seen in perhaps 20 years." The promise of heavy duty lobbying -- more importantly the campaign contributions that come with it -- hangs over the capitol like pollen in the springtime. It's the second major gambling bill, joining one filed by state Sens. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach... And Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, that allows five Las Vegas-styled casino hotels spaced across the state. / October 22, 2011

Destination casino bill due out today
FL - The compelling argument to allow the three casinos to move forward seems two-fold. First, the Senate Budget Committee learned yesterday that state economists have upped their budget shortfall projection from of an estimated $1.3 billion to $1.96 billion. On top of that, education dollars will be strained this year by an atypical jump in student enrollment and the end of federal stimulus funds, which means there will be $554 million less for school districts next year. / October 21, 2011

Dolphins testing the casino waters
FL - The Miami Dolphins... And Miami Beach may be angling for casinos if Florida expands gambling. The Miami Dolphins may want the land surrounding their football stadium to be considered for a casino license, and have dispatched a lobbyist to preserve that option should Florida lawmakers approve a landmark expansion of gambling. The National Football League... Prohibits any ties to gambling, while Miami Beach, which owns the convention center, has a policy opposing gambling. But holding companies tied to the team and its majority owner, Stephen Ross, own large tracts of land around the stadium, Ross could sell or lease the land and enjoy the profits... Critics see the push as a dangerous turning point for Miami at a time when the city's urban core is emerging as a popular dining and arts district. They warn a Genting casino and one Sands from Las Vegas wants in nearby Park West would bring a long list of woes, from sucking customers from existing businesses to paralyzing traffic. / October 22, 2011

Gambling debate previewed at Beacon Council lunch
FL - On the one side: outgoing Beacon chair Jack Lowell, a commercial broker who supports a Malaysian gambling giant's plan to bring about $3 billion in development to downtown Miami. On the other: incoming chair Alan Becker, a prominent lawyer whose firm represents racetracks, which would compete with new casinos for gambling dollars, and is questioning plans to bringing large-scale casinos to Miami. The Beacon Council itself took center stage in the gambling debate last week when its paid president, Frank Nero, made critical statements about gambling's impact on urban areas and warned that such large casinos could hurt Miami-Dade's efforts to diversify its economy. Lowell, who Genting flew to Singapore to tour a Genting casino there, praised the company and its rival, Sands, which wants to open a casino in Miami's Park West neighborhood. "They know how to do it right,'' Lowell told the crowd. "They will be assets to this community." / 10.21.11

Land around Miami Dolphins stadium, Miami Beach hall eyed for
FL - The Miami Beach Convention Center emerged as a potential casino site. City and county officials said developers looking for ways to snag coveted gambling licenses have floated the idea of razing the complex and remaking it as a modern convention center combined with a casino resort. State Rep. Erik Fresen, the Miami legislator drafting a bill that would grant South Florida licenses for three casino resorts, said he has met with Dolphins lobbyist Ron Book on the matter. He described the Dolphins as "interested" in casinos and wanting to protect the team's interest in case Florida approves large gambling resorts. "Ron Book, who works for the Dolphins, is trying to make sure that if a bill does pass, my client has a property that is available for some sort of destination facility," Book said. The gambling industry refers to large casino hotels as "destination resorts." / 10.21.11

Las Vegas-style casinos would hurt Miami
FL - Should Miami become another Las Vegas, catering to wealthy Latin American and European gamblers? Or should it build on its status as the Latin American headquarters for multinational corporations, and center for international banking, health services, arts and education? But Frank Nero, head of the Miami-Dade economic development agency known as the Beacon Council, broke the near unanimous chorus of support on Oct. 12, warning that the mega-casino project would siphon customers from hotels and restaurants elsewhere in Miami, and would scare away high-paying professional jobs from Miami. "In Atlantic City, you had more than 300 restaurants and bars prior to the establishment of casinos," Nero told me in a subsequent interview. "Now, there are fewer than 60 restaurants outside the casinos." "If we allow casinos, it will be increasingly difficult to convince a German life science company, for instance, to locate a major research facility at the University of Miami's new Life Science and Technology Park," Nero said. "Their image of Miami is not going to be that of a hotbed of research." But, for now, I'm ( Hughes, dean of Rutgers University School of Planning and Public Policy) not neutral. Considering how vulnerable Florida legislators are likely to be to big money promises at a time of financial crisis, I'm afraid they will be pretty lax at the time of authorizing full-fledged casinos. Unless the regulators convince me otherwise, I think mega-casinos will hurt Miami. / 10.22.11

Live: Miami District 1 and 2 Candidates Forum
FL - Question: Do you support the idea of gambling in the city of Miami? Milo: Gambling should be decided by the people. something that's going to impact so many lives needs to go to the people. needs to be a referendum. Gort: I agree. the people have to vote for it. Callahan: Personally I don't like gambling..but I'm also in agreement. ... / 10.21.11

New Bill Plans to Reform Gambling in Florida
FL - The new commission's responsibilities would include setting the state's gaming policy and serving as an investigation agency. As one of the most powerful state agencies created in history, the new gambling commission would also be responsible for the investigation, licensing, regulation and granting of gambling licenses. All casinos, except Native American owned establishments, would fall under the commission's responsibility. / October 21, 2011

Police search for home invasion robbers
FL - Woman using a stolen credit card at... Indian Casino... The woman along with a male accomplice stole a purse, cash, and jewelry from an 85-year-old woman during a home invasion... / 10/22/11

Restaurant Association Joins Opposition to Casino Expansion
FL - "Florida is considered one of the most family-friendly destination locations in the world. Should we gamble our decades of work to build our wholesome reputation on the risky proposition that those big-spending foreign gamblers will solve our economic problems? The answer is an overwhelming no. Any benefit to Florida will never outweigh the heavy cost." / October 21, 2011

Restaurant, lodging group against Florida casinos
FL - The influential trade organization has joined a growing list of opponents to such legislation. It's one of three key policy issues on a legislative agenda the association announced Friday. / 10.22.11

Thumb up: Florida Chamber of Commerce reiterates opposition to state's proposed expansion of casino gaming in South Florida
FL - "Florida is on the map now for high-wage, high-skilled jobs," said Florida Chamber of Commerce president Mark Wilson. "We just don't think we should sell out Florida's long-term future to make a quick buck." / October 22, 201

WSJ: Las Vegas Sands the focus of gov't probe
FL - An internal memo from the general counsel for Las Vegas Sands Corp. shows that it is seeking to secure a list of government officials who have gambled at the company's Macau casinos--indicating a possible focus of the U.S. government's bribery investigation into the company. / October 21, 2011

Slot machines in Miami-Dade and Broward counties have generated 20 percent of the promised $500 million per year for schools.
FL - "In fact, the last time voters trusted gambling interests, they were promised $500 million per year for schools from taxes on slot machines in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties. Promoters even signed a contract, saying that if the Legislature did not tax slot machines, they would cut a check directly to the school boards. So far, they have generated a paltry 20 percent of this figure - and recently they successfully lobbied the Legislature for a 30 percent reduction in their tax rate. Like the lottery, another promise broken." (No Casinos) 2007-08: $120.6 million... 2008-09: $103.8 million... 2009-10... $138.1 million... 2010-11: $125.1 million... 2011-12 (July - Oct. 2): $31.5 million... The tax rate started at 50 percent but the Legislature approved dropping the rate to 35 percent... Starting July 1, 2010. / October 20, 2011

Point of View: Is gambling morally wrong?
FL - Some leading theologians in the Christian community provide greater clarity than the polling data on the question of morality and gambling. Dr. Wayne Grudem, author of Systematic Theology and the 2010 book, Politics According to the Bible, also has serious objections to gambling. "My own judgment is that large commercial gambling outlets such as casinos and state-sponsored lotteries bring much more harm to a society than the benefits they generate (such as tax revenue)... First, it is socially harmful (and fiscally regressive) because the largest numbers of gamblers comes from the poorest segments of the population. Second, (it) leads to an addiction to gambling ... and this addiction destroys marriages, families ... and increases societal breakdown. Third, studies have shown that where gambling businesses are established, crime rates increase." Chad Hills, who researches gambling policy for CitizenLink, "Gambling is rooted in greed and deception. The sole purpose is to lure you in with false hope and take your money. Gambling is self-serving." The Florida Catholic Bishops have stated that gambling can "become morally wrong when it interferes with one's other duties or responsibilities". The Florida Bishops further state, "Gambling is often accompanied by vice and social evils. We are concerned over the impact of easier gambling opportunities on low and moderate income families and individuals, as well as those for whom gambling becomes a compulsive behavior. We are also concerned for the impact on neighborhoods, housing patterns and the homeless, and on public morality in general." They state in their Book of Resolutions: "The United Methodist Church opposes gambling in any form. Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, and destructive of good government. As an act of faith and concern, Christians should abstain from gambling and should strive to minister to those victimized by the practice... The Church should promote standards and personal lifestyles that would make unnecessary and undesirable the resort to commercial gambling -- including public lotteries -- as a recreation, as an escape, or as a means of producing public revenue or funds for support of charities or government. / Florida Family Policy Council / by JOHN STEMBERGER / Oct 21, 2011

Casino crooks make late night dash for cash
FL - Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers is asking for the public's help identifying a trio of armed robbers who charged into a Cape Coral casino early yesterday morning, grabbing purses, cell phones and a large amount of cash from the business' safe. / Oct 20, 2011

Casino leases delayed in Lake Worth over prospective tenants' demands
FL - But during a special meeting Wednesday, city commissioners questioned some of the terms of the proposed 10-year lease with the anchor tenant, noting that the leases are key to the financial success of the casino renovation project. The city commission is scheduled to consider the casino leases again during a special meeting set for 6 p.m. Nov. 3. At the beginning of Wednesday's meeting, Vice Mayor Suzanne Mulvehill, Mayor Rachel Waterman, Commissioner Christopher McVoy and Commissioner Jo-Ann Golden disclosed that they had received campaign contributions from potential casino tenants. All said they had received contributions from the T-shirt company. Money from the casino leases and beach parking revenue will be used to make payments on the $6 million bank loan the city plans to take out after the renovated casino opens in the fall of 2012. The city is borrowing money from its investment portfolio to cover the cost of rebuilding the casino and plans to pay back that money with the bank loan. / Oct. 20, 2011

Casino's expansion may create 800 jobs
FL - It's no secret that the Seminole Casino in Coconut Creek... Is expanding. The $150 million project is going to more than double the current size of the casino by the time construction is complete according to the casino. The renovations include three new restaurants, an expanded gaming floor, and a new LEED Silver Certified parking garage. / October 20, 2011

Casinos a social hazard for our community
FL - In Florida today, there are approximately 300,000 problem and pathological gamblers with hundreds of thousands of additional Floridians who are at-risk for developing serious to severe difficulties as well, according to the Orlando-based Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, a nonprofit support organization that does not advocate for or against casinos. The prevalence is not too far from that reported for illicit drug addicts. There is evidence also that every pathological gambler adversely affects six to eight people -- spouses, children, siblings, parents, colleagues and friends. Gambling increases domestic violence, financial crimes, bankruptcies and suicide rates, and jeopardizes significant relationships. Pathological gamblers cost Florida $ 1.6 billion dollars a year in police, judicial and medical costs. / 10.19.11

Chamber Backs Online Tax Collection, Education Reforms in 2012 Agenda
FL - According to a recent Miami Herald report, in the last quarter alone Gambling Malaysian casino giant Genting Group donated $202,920 -- $160,000 of it to the state Republican Party of Florida. Other donors include Miami Beach's Fontainebleau Hotel and Resort, $135,000; Hollywood's Gulfstream Racetrack, $63,385; Hollywood's Mardi Gras Gaming in Hollywood and affiliated Racing Corp. of West Virginia, $69,500; the West Flagler Dog Track, $54,500; Isle of Capri casino chain $49,500; and the Palm Beach Kennel Club, $36,750. / October 21, 2011

County Cracks Down On Internet Cafes
FL - Leaders have declared the businesses fronts for gambling. / October 19, 2011

Crime Stoppers seeks ID of casino robbers
FL - According to Crime Stoppers, just after midnight Wednesday, three armed men wearing ski masks and gloves entered the 7 Sweepstakes online casino and internet cafe on Del Prado Boulevard in Cape Coral. / Oct 20, 2011

Florida Chamber Gives Casino Advocates a Slim Chance
FL - However, he ( Chamber President) said, during a media conference in the Capitol Thursday on the priorities of the chamber in the upcoming session, the group is willing to take a second look at the casinos if advocates are able to show the proposed megacasinos would reduce rather than expand gambling. / October 20, 2011

Florida school boards want part of casino money
FL - "If you're going to have casinos, they're going to make billions," said Wayne Blanton, executive director of the Florida School Boards Association, in a speech to the Tiger Bay Club of Volusia County. That will translate into billions of dollars in extra state tax revenue as well, he said, adding: "I represent education and I'd like a piece of that money." Blanton, a Tallahassee political insider since he took the top job at the Florida School Boards Association in 1985, said there's a sure way to tell which issues will get the most attention from lawmakers. "Casinos have hired every single lobbyist in Tallahassee and beyond," he said, predicting that means lawmakers will approve the expansion of casino gambling "in the very near future." / October 20, 2011

Hotel & restaurant lobbying group joins anti gambling expansion efforts
FL - The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association released an overview of its legislative priorities for the 2012 legislative session and among them is the defeat of the destination casino bill. The Florida Chamber of Commerce and Walt Disney World are also among the opponents. / October, 21 2011

Our Opinion: Internet cafes
FL - But Internet cafes -- ostensibly places where people can go to get Internet access and check their email -- have taken advantage of a loophole in state law, offering so-called "sweepstakes prizes" that let patrons play with simulated slot machines online and collect winnings. State Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, introduced a bill in this year's legislative session to ban the cafes, but it died in a House committee. Mr. Plakon is back with House Bill 3, which would prohibit the "use of simulated gambling devices to conduct or promote game promotions, drawings and games of chance." Passage of that bill, and the identical SB 428, is a priority for Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell. This summer, Mr. Campbell said deputies had handled about 70 calls for disturbances or offenses at the cafes in previous months. / Oct. 20, 2011

Pending Bill Paves Way for 3 Major Gambling Operations in South Florida
FL - In the bill, the commission will have seven members a pool of names nominated by the Florida House and Senate. They will be appointed and selected by the governor. Controlling the investigation, licensing, regulation and granting of gaming licenses will create one of the most powerful state agencies Florida government has ever seen. / Oct 19, 2011

Vegas Style Resorts
FL - Plakon has a bill to ban internet cafes. His legislation could be rolled into the expanded gaming bill in an effort to garner more House support. If that happens Plakon is undecided how he would vote. "My wife doesn't even know what my answer is going to be on that so if that happens we will have to decide when the time comes," said Plakon. / October 19th, 2011

To his peril, a lone civic voice questions casino juggernaut
FL - As a reward for so doing, some of Beacon Council CEO Frank Nero's furious board members want him gone. How, after all, could he dare doubt in public the claim of big-time gambling that it would finally make a real city out of small-time Miami? Bear in mind that Mr. Nero didn't oppose casinos. He just raised questions about what they might do to Miami's economy and quality of life. Mr. Nero followed his statement with a call for an independent taskforce to probe the issue for a year before the legislature votes. No doubt a cooling-off is vital because, as he correctly notes, we're seeing a typical Miami reaction, rushing after hot deals that often become busts. When he was a New Jersey elected official he watched casino interests hire the lobbyists, law firms and economists and spread money around to anyone with political connections to gain casino licenses. What did happen, he says, is that the mob got into the service industries feeding those casinos. It got into the casino schools. Costly social problems like alcoholism, drug-dealing and prostitution proliferated. New Jersey lowered taxes on casinos and cut back regulation. Promises made became promises broken. As for local business, five-sixths of all bars and restaurants in Atlantic City were gone once the casinos arrived and sucked up the business, he says. With gambling, he says, the high-paying industries will never develop. / 10-19-11

Rubio, not a gambling fan, is staying away from casino debate
FL - Sen. Marco Rubio, who once sued Gov. Charlie Crist over a gambling compact... Reaffirmed his opposition to gaming today, but signaled he would likely not get involved in a campaign against the proposed Genting casino in Miami. "Nevada is the gambling mecca of the United States and it has a higher unemployment rate, their housing market is upside down ... they are hurting in Nevada." / October 18, 2011

'Bellwether' Republican Miami district likes Romney and casinos, unknown for Senate
FL - The poll released to the Herald/Times today shows that the district support casino gambling by 60 percent in all racial, gender and age groups with only Anglo women opposed -- by 41 percent. / October 18, 2011

Another President Bush: Jeb Hates Gambling (Sometimes)
FL - In 1999, Bush revoked the leases for all gambling cruise operations in the state. (The move didn't stand--the gambling cruise lines challenged the edict in court and in 2001 a judge negated it, allowing the lines to return to operation.) Also in 1999, Bush declined an offer for Florida to join the multi-state mega-lottery Powerball, which offered lottery jackpots much larger than any individual state lottery did. But during his two-term tenure as governor he permitted the Florida Lotto, one of the state's lottery games, to increase from one drawing a week to two. He also allowed a Fantasy 5 lottery game drawing every night, added two weekly Megaball drawings and allowed nightly Play 4 and Cash 3 lottery games. In 2002, the state legislature passed a bill increasing the limits and extending the hours at state poker rooms. Bush vetoed the bill, saying he didn't oppose the limit increases but did have a problem with expanding the hours of operation. In 2004, the state legislature passed a bill legalizing instant bingo and sent it to Bush to sign into law. Bush vetoed the bill. In 2006, Bush signed legislation allowing four state racetracks to install slot machines. / 10/18/2011

Casino Gambling Worry Spurs Caution on Use of Abandoned Military Bases
FL - Members of the Senate Military Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee... Gave their support to SB 148, which would redefine land previously used as a military facility and currently undeveloped... The designation would allow local communities to exercise eminent domain, oversee development of the property and return it to local tax rolls. Sen. Dennis Jones, R-Seminole, cautioned that the vacant military land may be attractive to casino operators because of the redevelopment-area tax breaks. / October 19, 2011

Casino hype? You bet. Let me deal out facts
FL - Neither side believes Rick Scott. If they did, we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Scott vowed absolutely, totally and without qualification that, if elected, he would not allow the expansion of gambling of any kind. He did so in an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness ... and then flew to Vegas two weeks after the election to meet with a casino owner. One study by the University of Buffalo's Research Institute on Addictions found that living within 10 miles of a casino can increase one's chances of becoming a problem gambler by 90 percent. / October 18, 2011

Destination Casino Gambling in Florida Becomes Hot Issue as Multi-Billion Dollar Suitors Circle Miami
FL - Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado tells the World Property Channel, "I am both optimistic and cautious regarding destination casinos in Miami. The fact is, the gambling aspect of the Genting project relies on whether or not the legislature grants licenses, which is out of our hands". Land speculation could inflate prices of real estate and appraised value of land around the casino development, ensuring that no one would be able to afford to buy or rent near the property. Many merchants would have to find locations elsewhere. Residential displacement could be an end result. The impact on current businesses: Destination resorts can have a negative impact on neighboring businesses because consumers are encouraged to stay in the resort and spend their money there, instead of going out to restaurants, merchants, plays and other venues. The social costs of alcoholism, gambling addiction, prostitution, organized and street crime. Who pays? Pearson further comments, "Former Miami Mayor Joe Carollo, hardly known as a visionary, says Genting will sweep in like Hernan Cortez marching through Mexico. Even Beacon Council President Frank Nero was quoted recently saying the project will be like a vacuum cleaner, sucking up the customers from surrounding establishments and have a chilling effect on the Wynwood and Design Districts." / 10/19/11

Only 20% of Florida Voters Support Expansion of Gambling
FL - While some politicians and lobbyists in Tallahassee seem mesmerized by the neon lights and garish glitter of high-stakes casino gambling, an overwhelming majority of likely Florida voters either want gambling scaled back or left as is. "Voters know that more gambling never lives up to the promises made by gambling interests," said No Casinos President John Sowinski. / Oct. 18, 2011

Orange bans Internet cafes
FL - Orange County Commissioners voted 7-0 Tuesday to ban Internet cafes with simulated gambling machines that offer sweepstakes prizes. / October 18, 2011

Pending Bill Paves Way for 3 Major Gambling Operations in South Florida
FL - In the bill, the commission will have seven members a pool of names nominated by the Florida House and Senate. They will be appointed and selected by the governor. Controlling the investigation, licensing, regulation and granting of gaming licenses will create one of the most powerful state agencies Florida government has ever seen. / Oct 19, 2011

Politifact: Genting's proposed casino would be nearly double largest in world
FL - Big right? But what about the size of the casino space? That's a question being raised by a group called No Casinos, who says Genting wants to build a casino in Miami that would be "nearly double the size of the largest casino in the world." / October 18, 2011

"The (Florida) casino proposed by Malaysian gambling conglomerate Genting would be nearly double the size of the largest casino in the world."
FL - A group opposing the expansion of gambling in South Florida, No Casinos... Made a claim in an Oct. 11, 2011, "Myth vs. Facts" chart that a bill in the works by two South Florida legislators would pave the way for a record-breaking enormous casino. "The 'sleight of hand' is one of the casino promoter's best tricks. The fact is the bill would put the biggest casinos in the world right here in Florida. In fact, the casino proposed by Malaysian gambling conglomerate Genting would be nearly double the size of the largest casino in the world. In fact, even if Genting limits the casino size to 8 percent of their development, that Miami casino would be big enough to house six modern marquee casinos on the Las Vegas Strip -- with room to spare! The Genting casino alone would comfortably fit the casinos of the MGM Grand, the Wynn, the Mirage, the Bellagio, Caesar's Palace and the Venetian. If 3 casinos of this size are built, Florida would have as much casino gambling as 20 or more casinos on the Las Vegas strip -- and all the money would be in the hands of just 3 companies." So the largest casino in the world measures about 546,000 square feet and theoretically, the Genting Group could build a casino that's 1 million square feet. No Casinos took that into account to get to its claim that the Miami casino "would be nearly double the size of the largest casino in the world." / October 11th, 2011

Dueling casino polls show local Miami Dade support but state reluctance
FL - Voters in Miami-Dade County's most conservative state Senate district strongly support bringing casinos to South Florida, a new Genting-backed poll shows. The survey contrasts, however, with a statewide poll done for casino opponents that shows only 20 percent of voters across the state want to see an expansion of gambling. "Polls usually reflect what the person who ran the poll is interested in,'' says Alex Villalobos, the former Miami state senator... The district surveyed by the Genting poll done by Miami pollster and Florida International University Professor Dario Moreno. The results, by pollster Hill Research, found that 47 percent believe Florida should "keep things as they are," while 30 percent believe there is too much gambling and 20 percent believe there is too little. Moreno also offered a series of so-called "push" questions, in which voters were read favorable statements about the casino and asked if it changed their minds. / October 18, 2011

Florida gaming commission to follow N.J., Nevada models
FL - But, as with every element of this high-stakes debate, a tug-of-war has ensued between the two most powerful international players, Las Vegas Sands and Genting Malaysia. Each wants to use the Florida regulations to put the other at a disadvantage, and each wants to distance itself from the organized-crime elements of the Chinese casinos to keep its regulatory record clean. A separate board would have the power to police the casinos, conduct investigations and monitor finances. Officials of both the Las Vegas Sands and Genting, the two most powerful casino companies seeking to move into Florida, say they support strict regulations, but privately doubt the sincerity of their competitor to want tight scrutiny. Genting has invested more than $400 million in downtown Miami property, including the Miami Herald building and the Omni Center. But 10 days before purchasing the Herald property, Genting was fined $425,000 by Singapore's Casino Regulatory Authority for violating that country's gambling regulations. Genting also came under fire in 2007 by Singapore's gaming officials, who forced the company to pull out of a partnership to build a casino in Macau because its partner, Stanley Ho Hung-sun, had been named by the U.S. Justice Department as a money launderer for the Chinese Triads' organized-crime syndicate. Las Vegas Sands has had its own regulatory challenges. The company announced in February that it was being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits bribes to officers of foreign governments. / 10.16.11

Big Bend lawmakers hear constituents' wish list
FL - Shut down Internet cafes that are basically street-corner casinos. Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell, speaking for the Florida Sheriffs Association, said the group's top priority is passage of bills (HB 3 and SB 428) "prohibiting the use of simulated gambling devices to conduct or promote game promotions, drawings and games... Of chance." That means Internet cafes, of which, Campbell said, about 20 have sprung up in Leon County in the past two years. / Oct. 17, 2011

Expanded Florida gambling would mean new regulation
FL - If gambling is going to be expanded in Florida, gambling laws will have to be expanded as well. That means creating a state gaming commission. / October 17, 2011

Florida Lawmakers On The Verge Of Casino Resort Bill Filing
FL - Discussions over the possibility of gambling expansion in the Sunshine State have been rampant since Governor Rick Scott took office. After his election win, Scott spent time flying on Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson's private plane. Adelson immediately started lobbying the new governor for Vegas-style casino resorts in Florida. The likely destination for these casino resorts, should they become a reality, would be South Beach and somewhere in the Fort Lauderdale area. Seminole lawyers are prepared to argue legally that the compact terms have been violated. If the courts agree, the state would lose hundreds of millions of dollars that the Seminoles are paying in taxes. / October 17, 2011

Florida shortchanges treatment for gambling addiction
FL - Somehow, when the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation added up the money this year, the total came to $264,000. The other $2.1 million, despite state law, despite the escalating need, simply vanished into the department's general fund. Pat Fowler, director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling, the non-profit contractor providing the state's training and outreach, said Monday that even that last $264,000 seems to be jeopardy for next year. (At least the Seminoles, who voluntarily provide $1.75 million a year to fund actual treatment for gambling addiction, haven't welched on their deal.) Florida, plainly, has a gambling addiction. Someone in Tallahassee should call the hotline. Quick. Before the funding runs out. / 10.17.11

Gambling Regulations In Resort Casinos Bill
FL - If Florida is going to be home to Las Vegas-style casinos, it has also got to have Las Vegas-style regulations, say the authors of a massive bill to bring resort casinos to South Florida. That includes creation of a state gaming commission and a rule that casino operators give the state access to almost everything -- including bank accounts, marital records, safe deposit boxes, computers and even their homes. Drafts of the proposals indicate that members of the five-person gaming commission would have staggered terms and be appointed by the governor. They would have the power to decide which companies will be granted licenses for each of the three resort casinos and the qualification rules. / October 18, 2011

Herald: Florida legislators ready to file casino bills this week
FL - Miriam Adelson, a physician whose husband serves as chair of Las Vegas Sands Corp., has donated heavily to Republicans in the past decade, and in 2010 supported Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and the National Republican Senatorial Campaign. Last year, Adelson gave $200,000 to Florida's Protect Your Vote... The anti-Fair Districts political action committee that was largely bankrolled by the Republican Party of Florida. / 10.17.11

Just how big is the proposed casino in Miami?
FL - Genting has proposed a 10-million-square-foot development including a casino, 5,200 hotel rooms, 1,000 condo units, more than 50 restaurants, lounges, bars and nightclubs, ranging from fine dining to buffets and a food court for a total of 700,000 square feet, about 60 luxury shops, / October 17th, 2011

Palm Beach County detectives seeking physicians to help with elderly scam victirms
FL - Sometimes a sheriff's badge isn't enough for Lt. Christopher Keane and his colleagues to solve a crime; sometimes he wishes there was a doctor in the house. Most recently, his financial crimes unit was handed a case in which a 79-year-old's live-in daughter was accused of stealing her mother's money to fuel a gambling and drug habit. / Oct. 16, 2011

Polls show strong local support for casinos in Miami-Dade, but statewide reluctance
FL - "Polls usually reflect what the person who ran the poll is interested in,'' said Alex Villalobos, the former Miami state senator who represented Senate District 38 for 18 years. That district was surveyed by the Genting poll done by Miami pollster and Florida International University Professor Dario Moreno. According to the survey of 400 likely voters interviewed Oct. 8-12, 60 percent support "changing the law to allow three destination resorts and casinos to be built in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties" and 35 percent oppose. The results, by pollster Hill Research, found that 47 percent believe Florida should "keep things as they are," while 30 percent believe there is too much gambling and 20 percent believe there is too little. No surprise, in every demographic group, support strengthened with voters saying they were more inclined to support casinos in every example. Moreno's poll did not inform voters about the negative aspects of gambling, such as the social costs of compulsive gambling and addiction, the possible impact on the local infrastructure and crime. Sowinski said the No Casinos will counter that, however. "There never really has been an instance in Florida history where something so dramatic in terms of legalization effort would proceed without asking voters,'' he said. / 10.18.11

Resorts World New York A Sign Of Casino Expansion On East Coast
NY - Genting started their casino resort business in Malaysia, but the company has become one of the top gaming groups in the world. Resorts World casinos have been popping up in cities all across the globe, and the company's latest project is a sign of what is to come on the East Coast of the US. / October 14, 2011

Special Interests' Contributions Flowing Into State Campaigns
FL - Every one of the 160 legislative seats is up for grabs as part of the once-a-decade process known as redistricting. That means more campaigning and fundraising that has pumped $10.75 million into the political system during the 2011-12 election cycle. Gambling. The prospect of bringing resort casinos to South Florida provided plenty of incentive for both the state's existing gambling venues and those that want to get in. Genting, the Florida gaming newcomer, dropped $202,920 -- $160,000 of which went to the state Republican Party of Florida, whose members are often an antigambling bulwark. / October 16, 2011

State casino expansion must bypass Orlando
FL - The Sentinel's editorial board opposed expanded gambling when it appeared on the 2004 ballot. We remain concerned about its addictive impacts; how its revenues generally don't improve public education, despite promoters' promises; how those with the least to lose are among those most willing to risk their savings. Allowing casinos in metro Orlando would severely undermine the family brand that makes the region an economic powerhouse. Disney and dice don't mix. Disney understands that, which is why its cruise ships are among the few without casinos. Las Vegas tried marketing itself as a family destination in the '90s but gave up and launched its "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" campaign. / October 16, 2011

Would shift in gambling laws affect Brevard? You bet
FL - Sitting at the table are Brevard's two major gambling operations, Melbourne Greyhound Park and its Club 52 poker room, and Port Canaveral-based Victory Casino Cruises, the gambling ship that's been sailing from the port since July 29. Also present are state legislators serving the Space Coast who are looking for ways to boost jobs and infuse much-needed revenues into state and county coffers but who have concerns about the impact on Florida's family-friendly image. On Oct. 5, the Florida Court of Appeals cleared the way for legislators to expand gambling in South Florida without a referendum vote. Two key legislators, Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, and Senate sponsor Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, are filing identical bills to allow for the big casinos in South Florida. Scott had a private meeting with a Nevada gaming company owner two weeks after his Nov. 2 victory, and he said he was open to allowing casino resorts featuring high-stakes gambling built around hotels, convention areas and entertainment... Venues. Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, said he's open to letting state lawmakers vote on the issue destination casinos as quickly as possible. / Oct. 17, 2011