Genting Boost as Florida Casino Plan Clears First Senate Hurdle

Florida (STOFL1) would become the most populous state with full casino gambling outside American Indian control under a proposal that has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

The decision was a win for Malaysia’s Genting Bhd. (GENT), which controls Asia’s second-biggest gaming company by market value. Yesterday’s vote in the Senate Regulated Industries Committee would allow the fourth-largest state by population to have as many as three Las Vegas-style casinos, with dealers and table games in addition to slot machines.

Genting Malaysia Bhd. (GENM), a unit of Kuala Lumpur-based Genting, has pitched lawmakers on a $3.8 billion casino-and-hotel complex on Miami’s Biscayne Bay as an antidote to the state’s 10 percent unemployment (USUSFLA) rate in November, ahead of the national rate of 8.7 percent. It also has plans to build the biggest convention center in the U.S., in New York City where it last year opened a casino at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens.

“The potential legalization of commercial gaming in Miami and table gaming in New York could provide a boost to earnings growth,” UOB-Kay Kian Holdings Ltd. analysts Vincent Khoo and Moey Su En wrote in a report today.

Genting Bhd. fell 0.7 percent to 11.06 ringgit at 9:45 a.m. local time in Kuala Lumpur trading today, while Genting Malaysia dropped 0.5 cent. The benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI Index (KLCI) was little changed.

The Florida measure is opposed by the Walt Disney Co. (DIS), the world’s biggest theme-park company, whose flagship Walt Disney World is near Orlando. Hoteliers, restaurant owners and betting parlors who say they’ll lose business to destination casinos also are lobbying against the bill.

Governor Rick Scott, a Republican who took office last year, hasn’t signaled whether he supports the plan. His insistence that any county that wants to land one of the resorts first get voter approval was included in a rewrite of the bill last week.

“This is the beginning of the discussion,” Republican Senator Ellyn Bogdanoff, the bill sponsor, said during the hearing at the state Capitol in Tallahassee.

To contact the reporter on this story: Michael C. Bender in Tallahassee at mbender10@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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