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Front Page » Opinion » Huge casinos wouldn’t nourish us, just supersize problems

Huge casinos wouldn’t nourish us, just supersize problems

Written by on March 11, 2015
Huge casinos wouldn’t nourish us, just supersize problems

”No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session,” the axiom goes – and a supersized 316-page House bill to supersize Florida gambling by adding mega-casinos proves the point.

Florida has shaken off a punishing recession and Miami in particular is booming. Cranes dominate downtown’s skyline. Jobs are growing, unemployment is down, visitors are flooding in. Times are good and improving.

If ever you’d think we’d be safe from big-time gambling, this would be the era.

But no, a Tampa representative walks into the House with a bill tailor-made for (and probably by) gambling interests that would, at least in Miami, undo hard-won economic gains.

As civic groups have united to resurrect One Community One Goal targeting industries with high-paying jobs and long-term potential for improved quality of life, the gambling industry is feeding us just the opposite.

Recall what the head of Genting, the Malaysian giant that bought the Miami Herald building and Omni mall for casinos, told us last time it made a mega-casino push here.

Jobs would be great, he said, because they’d be in air conditioning and those working would get to wear uniforms – the McDonald’s approach to pay ranges, and no burgers to flip.

Then he and his team bought nearby land to build dorms to house casino workers who’d be brought in from offshore to fill those uniform-wearing, air-conditioned jobs. Low-paying jobs, true, but not for us.

And this is the future a casino bill offers us – that and the chance to multiply all the social problems of big-time gambling, including addictions, crime, prostitution, poverty, homelessness and more.

Of course, we’d forfeit the high-spending visitors who’ve been flocking here from around the nation and the globe to a vastly improved cultural scene, spearheaded by Art Basel Miami Beach.

Those people come for a visit, then rent a condo, then buy a residence, then buy into businesses. They spend big, live well, help fuel our economy – and mostly wouldn’t visit a Las Vegas, much less live or invest there.

In their place, however, a mega-casino would lure here – just who? Gambling is so widespread that you don’t need to visit Miami to do it. Gambling visitors we’d get would be a long step down any ladder you could name from the people who now find Miami so attractive.

So who’d be the big customers of mega-casinos? Maybe locals – folks even Genting’s leader said shouldn’t be in the casino he wanted to build because they’d figuratively (and maybe literally) get their pockets picked. Early on he told Miamians they should only want to pick the pockets of visitors.

So are we going to build mega-casinos to cater to the retired poor souls who now hang out in our sad pari-mutuel slots halls? Look at the folks sitting there all day. Do we really want to build a huge multiple of that?

Genting still owns the old Herald site – yes, in only two years they were able to tear down the building just in time for the legislative session and they’re ready to build once the legislature acts. You can make one safe bet: they’ve talked privately with every legislator who will listen. Who knows what they’ve promised or given?

But then, Las Vegas casino owners who’ve played out their home town are ready to battle with Genting for the right to open here as a Miami Worldcenter convention hub is built – the perfect casino combination. And the big hotels on Miami Beach are always ready for casinos.

The gambling juggernaut never rests. While we focus on quality of life and work, casinos have a very direct economic interest in every detail of a 316-page bill that’s working its way down the legislative trail. Lots of amendments are likely. And it will need a companion Senate bill.

So sifting details of a bill that creates a Florida Department of Gaming Control and what would be allowed would be like sifting sand that constantly changes with the tide.

There are, however, two constants.

One, all profits from big casinos would go to out-of-state or out-of-nation owners. While workers got McDonald’s wages, owners would collect golden McNuggets.

The other constant is that Miami, even more than the rest of Florida, has everything to lose from opening doors to mega-casinos and absolutely nothing to gain. Hanging out a mega-casino welcome sign is a lose-lose for us.

Rather than debate the bill’s details, every business, civic, religious, cultural and charitable group in this area ought to be right now, today, telling our legislators that we’re not having anything of a McDonald’s gambling economy when we already have so much more.

A McDonald’s mega-casino is no way to nourish ourselves. It’s just an order to supersize social problems.

7 Responses to Huge casinos wouldn’t nourish us, just supersize problems

  1. Matt Giovanni

    March 11, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    That was the most bias moronic
    editorial I ever read.

    • Milton Champion

      March 12, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      You’d think someone would research wages at casinos before comparing to fast food outlets…

  2. Steven Norton

    March 11, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    It’s up to Miami and the State of Florida, whether destination casinos are allowed here. And my opinion doesn’t matter. But I will speak out when gaming opponents bring up untrue or misleading reasons for opposing casino gaming. There is a comment about the quality of jobs offered in casinos, yet they pay more with greater benefits than comparable positions in FL hotels or restaurants, which I assume Miami wants to keep. And the writer mentions addiction, crime and prostitution. As for addiction, I seem to remember that FL has a very profitable Lottery, with hundreds of outlets in Miami, and of course liquor is legal and drugs easy to buy.
    The Miami area already has higher crime rates that either Las Vegas or Atlantic City, and a proper analysis will uncover that the FBI only counts permanent population as the divisor, when determining Violent and Property Crime Rates; so visitors or commuting workers don’t enter into the calculation.
    And as for prostitutes, client potential in much higher in hotels that concentrate on business travelers or the convention trades; where the typical room is occupied by a single individual. Tourist resorts or casino hotels, usually have 1.9 to 2.1 persons per room, normally a couple, thereby minimizing the opportunity for ladies of the evening.
    The real negatives of casino gaming, have more to do with increased visitors, that with the fact that a new type of gaming is offered. They are traffic congestion and yes, crime. In the case of Atlantic City, which is usually referred to, crime tripled, but visitors increased from 4 million to 35 million annually (875% increase). And employees, most of whom lived outside the City, increased from a few thousand, primarily seasonal hospitality jobs, to around 80,000 year round. So a persons chance of being a victim of crime were down over 70%. And if Florida is worried about crime, they should close Disney World and all of the wonderful family attractions around Orlando, because both Violent and Property Crimes are up dramatically from the days before family fun came to the area.

  3. Leo Rodriguez

    March 12, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Ladies and Gentlemen. The State official should approve more casinos for Florida State. Just remember every time a new casino or casinos open and any State or town the now employees generate a lot of money for the State. The new employees will buy new car new house plus all the shopping around the State. So don’t be FOOLISH. Genting sound very tenting.

  4. Milton Champion

    March 12, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    Steve, thanks for jumping in and saving me some time! It’s getting exhausting…Great Reply!

  5. Gabriel

    March 13, 2015 at 11:13 am

    This guy is a moron. My wife and just moved back to California from Miami where we still own 2 condos. The so called good economy in Miami Dade is a joke. There is no economy it’s all service with very few jobs at that. The pay is crap and rents are sky high due to the housing crash. Average people can’t buy because of the banks restrictions that THEY caused in the last boom/bust cycle. All the fancy buildings being built now are for the rich off shore money to visit when things get bad in there countries or they here for christmas. The big hotel companies are just afraid that the unions will come in and they’ll have to pay living wages. This guy is a douche bags waving his morals in everybody’s face just stay in your gated community and shut up.

  6. Michael Morrow

    March 17, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Thank you Steven and Gabriel for stating all the comments I was thinking as I read Lewis’s ridiculous and unsubstantiated opinions on Miami and South Florida gambling, economics and tourism. This guy must be living in the “Right Wing Bubble” that Bill Maher always talks about. Furthermore, A,ONE,SOLO,ONLY ONE, UNO destination casino in Miami does not “A Las Vegas” make Miami.