Genting-Backed Casino Bill Stalls in Florida Legislature
Plans by Genting Bhd., Asia’s second- biggest casino operator by market value, to build a 5,200-room resort overlooking Miami’s Biscayne Bay stalled when a Florida House of Representatives committee postponed a vote on a bill to expand casino gambling.
Today’s decision from the House Business and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee leaves little chance lawmakers will approve the issue this year. Representative Doug Holder, a Sarasota Republican and committee chairman, said the panel will not meet before the end of the legislative session March 9.
“This was a recipe that just was not complete,” Holder, who opposed the bill, said after the meeting in Tallahassee, the capital. “It had all the right ingredients, but it wasn’t finished.”
The Kuala Lumpur company announced plans in September to build a $3 billion casino in Miami and obtained 30 acres of bayfront property. Walt Disney Co., the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which operates five gambling sites, all opposed the measure.
The Malaysian company announced a deal worth $236 million in cash to buy almost 14 acres that is home to McClatchy Co.’s Miami Herald newspaper and also bought the $206 million mortgage on the foreclosed Omni Center, the Miami Herald reported.
It’s Not Over
The company, which seeks to build the largest U.S. convention center in New York City, contributed $629,529 in the final seven months of 2011 to Florida lawmakers, parties and political committees, including $385,000 to the state Republican Party, which controls the Legislature and the Governor’s Office, according to state records.
Jessica Hoppe, vice president of Resorts World Miami, the name of the Genting project, said the company had not decided whether to take the issue directly to voters.
“We’re going to regroup and see where this will go,” Hoppe said. “This is an issue for Florida that does not end today.”
Representative Erik Fresen, a Miami Republican who wrote the bill, asked the committee to postpone its vote. The delay avoided a sensitive vote for some lawmakers on the panel during an election year.
House Speaker Dean Cannon, an Orlando-area Republican, has refused to reassign bills to different committees. The House could take up the issue without Cannon’s approval with a two- thirds vote.
“The speaker does not believe there is support for such a motion, nor would he entertain such a motion,” Cannon spokeswoman Katie Betta said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael C. Bender in Tallahassee at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at email@example.com