Daily Archives: November 12, 2011

Is Common Sense in Miami Possible?

By Gregory Bush, Vice President, Urban Environment League
publicbush@gmail.com

Tom Paine published Common Sense in 1776 as a down to earth treatise against British authority in North America. It was a critical pamphlet in rousing support against the British and the coming of the American Revolutionary war.  We now need many people to speak out against Destination Casino gambling’s attempt to take over Miami – an area not even part of the United States until the early nineteenth century . We need to use this threat to help redefine our region in a more human scale – moving away from the hype in showing that this is a destination that is well planned,  beautiful, thinks about the long term,  and contains people who are not filled with resentment at having lost the main chance. We should not gamble our future on “something for nothing,” the title of a book on gambling in American history by Jackson Lears.   Make no mistake about it. Destination resort gambling will be a new form of tyranny.

 

Many thoughtful observers believe that we need more Common Sense in planning the future of Miami and MIami-Dade County (and Broward as well) without gargantuan casinos that warp our resources and degrade our downtown – when it is just starting to recover. Yet such people need to speak out more through blogs, letters to editors and their local and state representatives.

 

Great financial power can corrupt as we have recently learned in this nation – and bowing to further expressions of gambling power within South Florida would further degrade our politics and exploit our hope for a broad scale recovery from this recession – a recovery that will hopefully benefit far more people than before. Do we want to stimulate productive labor and healthy tourism or what such large scale gambling will bring?  Politicians seem to be falling all over themselves to get their piece of the gambling pie.  What a sad spectacle. We need more attention by politicians to create good jobs in our area, attract a broad spectrum of business, and build compelling landscapes for all our people – not defer to the NEXT BIG IDEA as a panacea for Miami – which is a sad but recurring feature of the city’s history.

 

Resort casino gambling will feed the pockets of the owners but warp the priorities of government and the people who live here and who care about the place.  Miami is far from perfect.  Crime exists here now – but wait and see what the future could bring if the Fresen/Bogdanoff bill becomes law.

Sadly, many people think that the fix is on to bring large scale Las Vegas like gambling to Miami. The gambling interests have hired an astonishing array of lawyers, lobbyists, PR people and other allies in their attempt to fuel the steamroller.  That is the way politics is done in this area. Big money all to often seems to rule.  Yet  that is not what happened when the Marlins tried to take Bicentennial Park for a new Marlins Stadium or when Virginia Key Beach was slated to go away as a public park and become an upscale Eco Resort.  People and groups have awakened- periodically in recent Miami history – to call for better focus on the overall quality of life here in South Florida rather than simple deference to what is perceived to be a financial steamroller. That culture of cynicism needs to be forcefully confronted – but with positive alternatives. That is the challenge in the coming months for all of us in my view.  Speak out against the Fresen/Bogdanoff Bill and start addressing the broad scope of serious needs of all our people.

Rival Gaming Interests Attack Fresen Bill

Seminoles blast resort-gambling bill

The tribe’s chairman said the legislation violates the Seminoles’ compact with the state, signed in 2010.
Related Content
Florida economists: Casino revenue would be mild boost to state coffers
Gambling industry is selling an illusion
BY MARY ELLEN KLAS

HERALD/TIMES TALLAHASSEE BUREAU

TALLAHASSEE — The chairman of the Seminole Tribe broke his silence and vowed to oppose any effort to bring resort casinos to Florida because they would end the tribe’s gambling monopoly and breach its revenue-sharing agreement with the state.
“We will vigorously fight against any attack on our compact with the state,’’ said James Billie, the chairman of the Broward-based Seminole Tribe, in a statement released Thursday. “We urge Florida legislators to step forward in support of our compact and refuse to pass any legislation that violates contractual agreements with the Seminole Tribe.”
In 2010, the state entered into a compact with the Seminoles that gives the tribe the exclusive right to operate Las Vegas-style slot machines and table games such as baccarat and blackjack in Miami-Dade and Broward counties — where the tribe faces competition from pari-mutuel “racinos” — as well as exclusive rights to operate table games and slots at tribal facilities outside the two counties.
In exchange, the tribe agreed to pay the state at least $1 billion over five years, beginning with two $150 million payments and increasing to $233 million in 2012. In the fifth year, the state must return to the negotiating table with the tribe over the table games.
But Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff and Rep. Erik Fresen, who drafted the current resort-casino legislation, now say it was a mistake to have given the tribe the monopoly. The two lawmakers have filed a bill that would allow for three “destination resort” casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward. Bogdanoff, who voted for the compact with the Seminoles, said the state would be better off if it paved the way for the tribe to have competition.
“Monopolies are a bad thing. Gaming monopolies are toxic,’’ Bogdanoff, a Fort Lauderdale Republican, told reporters last week. “For the economic and political health of this state, we need to have competition in that field.”
Fresen, a Republican from Miami who voted against the compact as a freshman legislator, called the compact an attempt to “buy a monopoly on the cheap.”
“I never felt the compact was worth the paper it was printed on,’’ he said last week. “And here’s why: That compact was essentially drafted, kind of slammed down our throats… to help us with our budget short fall.’’ But it was loaded with so many provisions that it left no room for the state to allow for any competition, he said.
Since then, the state Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering, which regulates horse and dog tracks and jai alai frontons in the state, has issued two new gambling permits to a racetrack in Gadsden County and an additional jai alai permit to Magic City Casino in Miami, which operates Flagler Dog Track.
Owners of both of the permits believe that the measure allows them to apply to the state for a slot-machines permit, based on newly emerging case law, a move that would violate provisions in the tribal compact. The compact requires that the tribe’s payments be reduced if competition in Miami Dade and Broward lower its profits.
The tribe’s statement said it objected to Bogdanoff and Fresen’s “insulting comments” and called them out for “trivializing the value of the 20-year exclusive Compact.”
“I don’t believe those legislators have ever read our Compact,’’ Billie said “Those comments are incorrect and inappropriate. They stir up the issue, rather than explain the facts.”
Seminole Tribe officials are urging state gaming regulators to move cautiously.
“Rumors and hopes of casinos seem to be exploding all over the state,’’ said Tony Sanchez Jr., the tribe’s president. “It is time for both the tribe and the state to protect our mutual interests, as defined by the compact.”

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/11/10/v-fullstory/2496737/seminoles-blast-resort-gambling.html#ixzz1dV2NcoxF

Gambling Benefits – An Illusion

In My Opinion
Gambling industry is selling an illusion

BY FABIOLA SANTIAGO

FSANTIAGO@MIAMIHERALD.COM

MiamiHerald.com/columnists
The gambler always thinks he’s going to win.
The gambler always thinks this time he’s got his game on, that he’s holding a lucky hand, that the move he’s about to make is the one to save him from the losing streak.
That’s the illusion the gaming industry sells.
It’s the same brand of illusion the suave Malaysian and Las Vegas casino moguls making the rounds in South Florida are peddling to the populace, the press and politicians all too eager to applaud ready-made deals.
Already, the gaming tables are set up:
• Malaysia’s Genting bought the waterfront land of the Omni-Miami Herald properties and set up shop in Tallahassee to procure casino gambling approval from the Legislature to build the world’s largest casino complex — 5,200 hotel rooms, some 50 restaurants and three times the gambling space of the largest casino in Las Vegas.
• Vegas mogul Steve Wynn wants the Miami Beach Convention Center site and made his pitch Wednesday to the mayor and the city manager over a lunch of our famous stone crabs, no less. (An ironic setting given that one of the big fears is that family-owned businesses like Joe’s Stone Crab are likely to loose from the displacement such a drastic transformation of our tourism economy would bring, but this is not an industry that worries about moral gestures).
• And both Wynn and Las Vegas’ Sands have eyed 20 acres of land near the old Miami Arena site, known as the Miami World Center, as an ideal spot for another mega casino resort.
Anybody else feel like hanging a “No Trespassing” sign?
Not the town’s gamblers, those local leaders who think they’re holding the winning hand.
Not state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, a Republican from Fort Lauderdale who says she wants “an intellectually honest debate” — then proceeds to brand as anti-capitalists anyone who opposes casino gambling resorts in Miami.
Not the hired hands of the casino moguls, who’re busy promising that casino resorts will bring thousands of jobs to the unemployed masses and lure hundreds of thousands of high-end, game-loving tourists from Asia and Latin America.
Jobs and tourists flowing into Miami like coins from a bell-ringing jackpot.
Those willing to gamble away Miami’s future on such promises made their exaggerated pitches this week to the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, throwing around

lots of billion-dollar figures to rousing applause.
A gamblers’ delusion is heady stuff.
But those multi-billion-dollar investments are only a win-win for casino owners tapped out in their markets and in need of new revenues (and maybe for

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locals already on their payroll). When it comes to operations, the gambling industry will bring its people, the unemployed in Vegas and elsewhere with experience in the industry, for whom running a new casino in a fantasy location like Miami will be a promotion.
Resort casinos would bring almost a million more tourists a month to Miami-Dade and Broward, according to the math of St. Thomas Business School Dean Tony Villamil, whose firm was hired by Genting to do an economic impact study.
This illusion is easier to dash: Ever heard of an economist, or any expert for that matter, hired by a firm come up with an opposing view? And who wants one million more tourists a month on our inadequate roads, tapping our water and sewer and emergency services? This is home, you know.
We’re in a recession like everyone else, but we don’t need the quick-fix charity of a dominant, insular, and highly risky industry that has done little to elevate the places where it exists. The promoters can’t point to a single place in the United States we can compare to, but urge us to check out Singapore, and are so condescending they venture to add that we’ve probably never been there, and thus wouldn’t know all we’re missing.
Hogwash. They need us.
Tourists from around the world already come to South Florida for all we have to offer — a unique geography, enviable beaches, world-class cuisine served in distinctive award-winning restaurants, world-class arts, a variety of special annual events, and a diverse, international culture. We deliver high-end, middle-end and budget vacations a short drive from the Keys and Walt Disney World. We’ve a got vibrant port, a cruise ship industry and sporting franchises.
We already attract the South American crowd, that’s why the gambling moguls are working so hard to be here, to siphon what we already have, what has taken us decades to build. For our established businesses to cash-in on the growing Asian tourism market, we don’t need casino gambling, but a targeted strategy from business leaders.
We’re being dealt a losing hand, and we’ve got little to gain and a lot to lose.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/11/11/v-fullstory/2497979/gambling-industry-is-selling-an.html#ixzz1dV0ulnCW

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Economic Impact of Gambling from Miami Herald

The GAMBLING DEBATE
Florida economists: Casino revenue would be mild boost to state coffers

State economic forecasters issued an analysis of the financial impact on Florida if three resort casinos open in Miami-Dade and Broward.
Related Content
Seminoles blast resort-gambling bill
Gambling industry is selling an illusion
BY MARY ELLEN KLAS

HERALD/TIMES TALLAHASSEE BUREAU

TALLAHASSEE — Resort casinos would boost state coffers next year by about $155 million, mostly from licensing fees, but the net benefit to the state once the resorts are in full swing in 2015 would be only between $4 million and $102 million a year, according to state economists.
The first analysis of the financial impact of resort casinos was performed by state economists trying to forecast the effect of legislation on state finances. Two South Florida legislators have filed a bill that calls for allowing three giant resort casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
The state’s chief economist said the financial estimates are only preliminary, and that economists with the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference want to gather additional information on how much gambling the South Florida market can sustain.
They also will take a closer look at the impact on Florida’s existing pari-mutuel “racinos” before deciding on the final economic impact of the controversial proposed bill.
“There are definitely offsets’’ to the revenue generated by the casinos, said Amy Baker, director of the Legislature’s office of Economic and Demographic Research. “It’s not a one-way street. You have to look at the impact it will have on the other gambling facilities in the market.”
The conference includes economists from the state House and Senate, the governor’s office and state agencies. Baker said she expects the group to meet one or two more times before agreeing on a final number for the bill designed to bring three $2 billion resort casinos to South Florida by 2015. A Malaysian company, Genting Group, plans to build a major resort in Miami, which would include a casino if the legislation is approved in Tallahassee.
The preliminary estimates assume the state will lose $99 million in annual revenue-sharing payments from the Seminole Tribe beginning in 2015. That’s because at least one county outside South Florida would be expected to approve a resort casino, invalidating the state’s compact with the Seminoles that gives the tribe exclusive rights to offer gambling outside South Florida.
“This was a good exercise, but there are at least two or three assumptions that are flawed,’’ said state Rep. Erik Fresen, the Miami Republican who is sponsoring the bill in the House. Fresen said the bill sponsors have no intention of allowing resort casinos outside of Miami-Dade and Broward. “They looked at the bill as a starting point, not where it will be.”
If no resort casino is built outside South Florida, the revenue loss to the state would be smaller, Baker said.
LOST BUSINESS
The analysis said the state would lose some revenue from taxes now paid by the five pari-mutuels that operate slot machines and poker rooms in Miami-Dade and Broward, because the new resorts would “cannibalize” business from the racinos.
The analysis predicts that the new casino resorts would draw 3 percent of the slot machine business from the racinos and 17 percent from the Seminoles’ Hard Rock Casino near Hollywood.
The economists predict the state will lose between $10 million and $22 million yearly in gambling taxes from the pari-mutuels, but Baker said that number could be higher if the Seminole Hard Rock shifts its marketing strategy to try to capture more of the local market to compete with the resort casinos.
Those losses would be offset by increases in sales taxes from construction of the resort casinos of as much as $23 million a year beginning in 2013, forecasters said.
By 2015, when the resorts would be in full operation, the total gaming taxes from the casinos would climb to between $98 million and $210 million, the economists said.
The preliminary forecast is based on the provisions in the bill as it is currently drafted. The analysis noted that the resort casinos would spark additional economic development, which would include increased local property taxes and taxes associated with land purchases, but the analysis said those estimates cannot yet be determined.
The sponsors of the bill, Fresen and Republican Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale, said the economists based their estimate on provisions that they have already agreed to change.
“The revenue reduction will no longer exist when this bill is passed,’’ Bogdanoff said.
She emphasized, however, that the goal of the bill is not to raise revenue for the state but to establish a “strategic direction” for the state’s hodgepodge gaming policy. “This is not a budget debate.”
Fresen said he and Bogdanoff plan to amend the bill to give the five South Florida pari-mutuels the same tax rates and games the resort casinos would get, which would help the racinos compete and increase the state take from gambling.
TRIBE PACT
As currently written, the bill leaves the tax rate on slot machines at pari-mutuels at the current 35 percent, while giving the resort casinos a 10 percent rate. The sponsors said they also plan to require the resort-casino applicants to guarantee that they will make up to the state the revenue it would lose from the Seminole Tribe.
Under the 2010 gambling compact with the Seminoles, the tribe agreed to pay the state at least $1 billion over five years, beginning with two $150 million payments in 2010, increasing to $233 million in 2012 and ending with $234 million in 2014, when the tribe will either have to renegotiate with the state or lose its table games such as blackjack and baccarat. Economists estimate the tribe’s payment would only be $99 million in 2015.
Loss of the revenue from the tribe was only one of the negative factors state economists cited. They noted that “there would be significant churning of existing tourist and convention activity” and estimated that about $97 million yearly would shift from current tourism venues to the new resorts.
NEW REVENUE
The analysis noted, however, that there will be additional sales-tax revenue generated from three sources: Florida residents who would have traveled outside the state to gamble but would now stay here, out-of-state tourists who would come to Florida to gamble, and new international tourists, particularly from Latin America, “who would not have come at all to Florida.”
Economists cited an Oct. 24 report by Bernstein Research, a gambling analysis group that predicted Florida “has the potential to pull 15 percent of the business from Las Vegas.” But the economists said they couldn’t predict what that benefit that will be on state tax revenue “because the ultimate business plans and locations are currently unknown.’’
The first hearing on the bill is scheduled for Wednesday, in a workshop in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/11/11/v-fullstory/2498017/florida-economists-casino-revenue.html#ixzz1dV01MvG3

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Perspectives on gambling in Miami

Gambling on Miami Beach: Tell Us What You Really Think Nancy Liebman. By Geniusofdespair

Looking for someone who would not mince words, I decided to check in with my good friend, Former City of Miami Commissioner Nancy Liebman, to get her view of the Mega-Casino Steve Wynn envisions for Miami Beach…yeah his plan was in the Miami Herald yesterday:

I sincerely doubt any educated resident would support the notion of a casino in Miami Beach AND THIS MUST BECOME A REFERENDUM. Miami Beach is already a destination as a beautiful and unique city based on years of energy in restoring its architectural heritage, creating outstanding venues for the cultural arts and rebuilding it's status as a tourist destination. We do not need gambling to save us or reinvent our imagine. Those who are promoting gamb

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ling are doing so for their own self-serving interests.

The city, however, must protect itself IF the legislature SUCCUMBS to the gallant efforts being made by the casino lobby.

If casinos are let loose to trample the South Florida landscape, Miami Beach must have a plan to protect it's convention center. I do not advocate for casinos anywhere on the Beach or in the City of Miami. It would be a pathetic decision to allow a casino on the site of the convention center! If the legislature allows casinos, a casino at the foot of the Venetian Causeway is no better or worse than the Miami Beach Convention Center.

So instead of Miami Beach becoming the back door of the casino rampage while downtown Miami gets smothered in casino resorts, the city must establish its own plan to deal with

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Legislators will get it and prevent this catastrophe! Miami is not broken and gambling surely cannot fix it!
– Nancy Liebman

P.S. I am incensed by this whole gambling mood. They are taking advantage of the economic crisis to further this bad idea.

Read more on: http://eyeonmiami.blogspot.com/2011/11/gambling-on-miami-beach-tell-us-what.html

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