Miami Becoming Next Las Vegas
Filed Under: Business, US | Posted: 01/11/2012 at 10:20PM
Comments | Region: Florida | United States
From this week, lawmakers in Florida, United States, put their bets on the table to define a topic that is generating a heated debate.
This is a bill that seeks to build three megacasinos in southern Florida, which has led many to equate Miami, the main town in the state, with Las Vegas, which is par excellence the capital of the world bets.
As entrepreneurs and advocates, casinos would allow the state to generate thousands of jobs, increase and diversify the tourism and receiving millions of dollars in revenue.
But these potential benefits in contrast to the list of objections listed by known entities (such as Walt Disney Co.), who consider that casinos would affect different businesses and damage the international brand of Florida as a tourist and business healthy and open to all family.
While Florida State Parliament debated in Tallahassee over the next 60 days the possible approval of the licenses of three megacasinos, the issue takes weeks on the public agenda and created a debate that has developed in the media and discussion forums.
Even without knowing what the decision makers, some giants of the gaming industry are already showing their interests in South Florida.
For example, in May, the Malaysian company Genting (a multinational casinos, among others, is defined as the largest casino operators in the United Kingdom), invested $ 236 million to buy 5.6 acres in downtown Miami .
Is the land where this is the headquarters of the two newspapers of the city, The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, and where the future may be what has been called one of the largest casinos in the United States, with an estimated investment of U.S. $ 3,800 million.
Genting also acquired several adjoining buildings, including a Hilton hotel of 527 rooms.
In total, Genting plans to build nearly one million square meters, about 5,000 rooms, a "gap" size of 12 Olympic swimming pools, artificial beach and over 50 restaurants and bars, plus a "game component" of about 28,000 meters square.
Another company interested in investing in Florida is Las Vegas Sands, a company based in the state of Nevada which has among its properties with two of the luxury hotel-casino in Las Vegas: The Venetian and Palazzo.
Nick Iarossi, a government affairs consultant in Florida hired by Las Vegas Sands, said in conversation with BBC that the company "sees the market in South Florida as one of the least developed in terms of convention hotels with a component of game. "
"They are very interested in Florida," he adds Iarossi, who also emphasizes: "We’re not trying to turn Florida in Las Vegas."
It should be noted that Florida has become one of the states with a gaming industry developed. There are casinos that belong to indigenous groups like the Seminole or Miccosukee (which are governed by special legislation) and with most businesses that offer slot machines and bingo.
However, they are hardly comparable with Vegas-style megacasinos and those currently under discussion.
"What Happens in Vegas …"
To Iarossi, as well as Genting, one of the advantages of megacasinos is the ability to create jobs, as part of the investment of at least U.S. $ 2,000 million, according to the initial bill, the casinos would have to put on the table.
Walt Disney prefers to maintain the image of Florida as a destination safe and familiar.
The official in Miami Genting project, called Resorts World Miami, estimates that it will create "100,000 new jobs" with the introduction of the three megacasinos.
Other benefits are highlighted Iarossi revenue for the state (which has a budget deficit of U.S. $ 2,000 million and an unemployment rate around 10%), the region’s economic development and the arrival of new tourists. In his view, this would also benefit the businesses and restaurants adjacent to the new megacasinos.
But not all agree and the opposition includes institutions such as Restaurants and Lodging Association of Florida, Florida Chamber of Commerce and one of its prominent members, The Walt Disney Co.
Brad Swanson is one of the people who, from his position as vice president of corporate partnerships and strategic Florida Chamber of Commerce is leading the exposure of negative arguments.
"We think this is a bad bet for Florida and we believe that what happens in Las Vegas, should stay in Las Vegas," says Swanson told the BBC.
The casinos "are markets ‘predatory’ and they give stays, free meals and all that already provided by local businesses," said the vice president.
Swanson also said that the idea of these megacasinos to promote their services in markets such as Latin America "would damage our brand internationally as a place where people can bring their business and their families."
"Las Vegas and found that brands that are friendly to families and casinos are not complementary but harm."
Also think about this type of project, says Swanson, "is a great distraction for what is most important in Florida," such as education and job creation in small businesses.
The executive of the Florida Chamber of Commerce also questioned the arguments that indicate that megacasinos help solve the state’s fiscal deficit.
"Florida is on track … is one of three states in the nation that creates private sector jobs and our unemployment rates are falling."
"These casinos need to Florida, but Florida does not need those casinos," he concludes.