Miamidade Voters May Get A Say On Casinos
Written by Ashley Hopkins on December 1, 2011
By Ashley Hopkins
Miami-Dade Commission Chair Joe Martinez seeks both a non-binding January referendum on resort casinos and commission buy-in on a casino policy letter he’s targeting to the legislature.
The commission last week barred talk of placing a casino straw vote on the county’s Jan. 31 ballot, invoking a four-day notice rule. Meanwhile, Mr. Martinez asked commissioners to review his casino policy letter. He plans to discuss it Dec. 6.
Bills to allow three massive casinos are filed in the state House and Senate. Malaysia-based Genting Group seeks a $3.8 billion, 10 million-square-foot Resorts World Miami casino in the Omni area. Other casino firms also bank on a state OK to open.
The Martinez draft letter states that while the commission "has not yet taken a formal position" on resort casinos:
•Pari-mutuels must get parity with them in games and tax rates.
If the state approves the bills as written, resort casinos would be allowed to operate and sell alcohol 24 hours a day. Resort casinos would pay a 10% state tax on gross receipts, while pari-mutuels would continue to pay 35%.
•Issues pertaining to "continuing viability" of the Miami Beach Convention Center and the Arsht Center must be addressed.
Miami Beach is seeking $648.2 million to expand its center by 1 million square feet, doubling meeting, lobby and service areas.
•The bills, which require that the county provide "conceptual approval" for any destination resort casino, must clearly define "conceptual approval."
The 12-member Senate Regulated Industries Committee, which handles gambling issues, held the first of two three-hour sessions on the bill last month. The second is to be this month, with a vote expected in January.
No hearings are scheduled on a twin bill in the House.To read the entire issue of Miami Today online, subscribe to e -Miami Today, an exact digital replica of the printed edition.