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Front Page » Government » Miami votes on gambling ban

Miami votes on gambling ban

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Written by on October 2, 2013

Miami Commission Chairman Marc Sarnoff is looking to rid the city of gambling – at least on city-owned property.

A measure he introduced last week that passed on first reading would prohibit gambling in all forthcoming leases for city-owned property. The measure is to be reworded and return for a final vote.

If it passes, the ban would affect Virginia Key Beach, Scotty’s Landing in Coconut Grove and Melreese Golf Club near Miami International Airport.

No gambling is permitted in Florida other than that specifically allowed, a ban the city cannot govern, Mr. Sarnoff said. “But what we do govern on a going-forward basis,” he said, “is we can make a policy statement about gambling on city-owned property.”

The ordinance, he said, wouldn’t affect existing city contracts.

Still, he admitted on the dais, he presented the ban as something for commissioners to look into that might need more work before a final vote.

“I just thought it was good for us from a policy standpoint on a moving-forward basis,” he said, “to say ‘on city-owned property we should not afford gambling rights.’”

But the ordinance did in fact need work, said Michelle Spence-Jones, and because it would cover all five commission districts she wasn’t completely comfortable with the intent since she doesn’t want to tie the hands of whoever takes her place after her term ends in November.

“I want to hammer it out,” she said. “I want a certain level of fairness in the process.”

And, agreed Commissioner Frank Carollo, perhaps Mr. Sarnoff should include language that, although still prohibiting gambling, would allow lessees to come back before the commission for gambling approval if necessary.

That would be similar to leases the city already has on eight other properties, said Henry Torre, city director of public facilities and asset management. At the moment, he told commissioners, city leases contain language pertaining to gambling for Bayside Marketplace downtown, Grove Harbour, the Hyatt on the Miami River, ING (Miami Tower), Jungle Island, the Watson Island heliport, Flagstone’s planned project on Watson Island and Grove Bay Investments.

The leases for all of those properties, he said, state that while gambling is not allowed there by Florida, should it become legal, leaseholders have a right to come before the city to seek approval for gambling.

Florida’s entire gambling policy is likely to come under intense review as the legislature convenes next year. The state commissioned a $400,000, three-part study of gambling and residents’ attitudes toward it as a basis for legislative action.

Focus in Miami-Dade County has been on one or more resort casinos of a type Florida does not now allow. The former Miami Herald site and the Omni mall site have been acquired by Malaysian casino giant Genting Group with an eye to casinos. The city’s action last week would not affect those privately owned sites in the city, but state legislative action could.

Part of the study for the state released Tuesday by Spectrum Gaming Group said that gambling expansion in Florida would at best have slight positive economic impact.

 

4 Responses to Miami votes on gambling ban

  1. Richard

    October 3, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    I would like to find the old CBS 60 minute segment on how gambling effected Atlantic City of busing people directly into casinos and did everything with food, drinks, shows and lodging to prevent people from using the local businesses. I hope our legistlatures (sp) see this and dont get sold out by gambling lobbyists.

  2. Henry

    October 5, 2013 at 1:35 pm

    I grew up in NJ, and know the Atlantic City saga all too well. Prior to the casinos, the town was a crime-riddled, blight infested coastal wasteland. The tourism and hospitality industry that had given the city its identity from the turn of the 20th Century well into the 60”s had essentially vaporized, leaving Atlantic City an impoverished, delapidated shadow of its former self. The casinos came in and gradually revitalized and restored the world famous boardwalk and convention Mecca. Sure, an undesirable element came along for the ride, but shortly thereafter, they were overshadowed by more powerful corporate interests. Also, law enforcement has had a devastating effect on the proliferation of organized crime throughout the country. That’s not to say it does not exist, but it also existed long before casino’s arrived. Atlantic City still has poor neighborhoods, but the fact that the casinos have provided substantial numbers of jobs, municipal and state revenues, private investment and opportunity is irrefutable.

    Miami is far better positioned to thrive with the authorization of casino gambling. The city is growing, industries such as tourism and real estate are booming. Industrial real estate is surging, signaling increases in global trade; infrastructure projects abound as a further indication of the growth and prosperity that lies ahead.

    Technology has altered the issue. The fact that casino gambling today is available in a few keystrokes from the comfort of your own home or office as well as at the para-mutuel casinos begs to challenge the impact a brick and mortar privately owned gambling estabishment would have in a given community. What can not be challenged are the number of jobs, capital and opportunity that would be ushered in by its legalization.

  3. R Ariki

    October 10, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    Gambling has been defeated over and over again by the voters. The city needs jobs, investment, educational opportunities that push it forward. Gambling doesn’t push anything but addiction and illusion.

  4. Henry

    October 10, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    R Ariki,
    That’s pretty narrow thinking. The internet and video games do the same thing. So do dog racing, jai alai, horse racing, the Florida Lottery, and the Indian casinos. Somehow, the four horsemen haven’t been seen. Weak addictive personalities will find a way to victimize themselves, and today they can do it right from their own homes. Casinos will bring jobs, investment, and the revenues generated will help improve education.

    Your position is no longer defensible in light of existing gaming and current technology.

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