Opinion

Staff editorial 11/14: Casinos threaten Florida lifestyle

It looks like Disney could face some competition for Florida’s tourism dollars. A bill has been proposed that would allow multiple $2 billion casinos to open in South Florida.

This debate has the Walt Disney Company and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, in favor of a wholesome family image, facing heavy resort-casino investment. This past spring, the Genting Corporation, a company from Malaysia, bought 30 acres along Biscayne Bay for one of the three casino projects. Genting has plans to invest considerably more money, and has talked about fixing highways and partnering with nearby businesses.

Proponents of the bill point out that it will create jobs, help Florida’s slumping economy, unify gambling in the state and attract a wealthier clientele. These large resorts would bring in new businesses and money, helping Miami flourish as a cosmopolitan city.

However, the bill has yet to gain traction with numerous political figures. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez worries about these resorts “sucking the life out of” neighborhoods, and Gov. Rick Scott says he doesn’t want Florida’s economy to “over-rely” on gambling, according to an article in The New York Times.

Bringing in this kind of significant development would definitely make some improvements to South Florida. However, there is an array of negative effects that could result if this bill is passed.

While the casinos may bring in more tourists, it is highly unlikely that they’ll venture from the premises. These resorts are self-contained and wouldn’t necessarily promote the exploration of surrounding businesses and activities.

Gambling also comes with a negative stigma and worries about what this would do to the city. Las Vegas and Atlantic City, two of the U.S.’s gambling capitals, aren’t known for being the classiest of places, and some expect Miami to have the same fate.

Representatives from the Florida Chamber of Commerce have been saying that this bill is targeting Florida because desperate times call for desperate measures. They feel that, in a good economy, this idea would never gain traction.

There is a good chance that this is true. Our lawmakers should take a step back and look at this from all angles before supporting a move that could end up doing more to damage Miami than to benefit it.

Editorials represent the majority view of The Miami Hurricane editorial board.

November 13, 2011

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