News: FAQs About the Casinos Debate

As provided by Miami Beach City Manager Jorge Gonzalez

What is a “destination resort?”

In addition to offering limited gaming facilities, a destination resort is defined as including tourism amenities, such as restaurants, convention facilities, attractions, entertainment facilities, shopping centers, and service centers.

What would be allowed if resort casinos are approved?

There would be a “limited gaming component” in which no more than 10% of total development square-footage could be devoted to gaming.

Slots, blackjack, craps, roulette, baccarat and Las Vegas-style slots would be allowed; sports books and pari-mutuel betting would not.

What would be the hours of operations?

They would be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Would they be allowed to sell alcohol?

Yes, during all hours.

Who in the state legislature is behind the casinos bill?

The bill is co-sponsored by Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff (R-Fort Lauderdale) and Rep. Erik Fresen (R-Miami). The Senate version is numbered SB 710 and the House version is HB 487.

When will the Legislature take up the bill?

During its two-month legislative session starting in January.

What would the bill do?

Among other things, it would create a seven-member State Gaming Commission that would award up to 3 “destination resort” licenses in the state. Licenses could be issued only in counties where a referendum for slot or limited gaming has been approved (both Miami-Dade and Broward qualify).

What is required of any potential resort developer?

Any resort developer would be required to make a $2 billion investment in new development. To secure a license, a non-refundable $1 million application fee would also be required, along with a $50 million licensing fee to be submitted with application (which is refundable if applicant is not selected).

What would go into deciding who is awarded a license?

The evaluation criteria, as proposed in the bill, is as follows: Design and location (35%), management expertise (10%), speed to market (35%), financial plan and access to capital (10%), and community plan (10%).

What are some of the “financial” facts about the resorts?

Each would have to pay a 10% tax to the state. There would be no revenue-sharing component, either with the state or with local counties and cities. The 35% tax on pari-mutuel “racinos” would not be reduced.

What are Genting’s plans?

Genting, whose proposed development is called Resorts World Miami, has acquired approximately 30 acres in Miami. The Malaysia-based company has made an estimated $400 million investment, $236 million of which has been spent in acquiring the Miami Herald property. The acquisition of the former “Omni” building is also a part of Genting’s plans, according to the Beach city manager.

What would Genting’s resort casino be like?

Genting proposes a resort with 5,200 hotel rooms; approximately 350,000 sq. ft. of convention/meeting facilities; 800,000 sq. ft. of limited gaming (casino); two residential towers with up to 1,000 units; and 50 restaurants and entertainment uses.

Who else is interested in building a resort casino here?

Miami Worldcenter is another proposed gaming resort, by a different set of investors and partners. It would be located on a 20-acre site due west of American Airlines Arena.

About Charles Branham-Bailey

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