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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bogdanoff to Genting: 'Tone it down and be realistic'

16

November

Genting Americas President Colin Au opened the two-hour Senate hearing on the destination resorts casino bill with the company's trademark glitzy presentation and Au's characteristic bluntness.

Au quickly dismissed rumors that South Florida casino jobs will go to people from Atlantic City or Vegas: "Thats bulls**t, okay," he told the Senate Regulated Industries Committee. He repeated the phrase again during his 30-minute presentation, a rare candid comment for the staid confines of the Legislative arena.

Au, however, was determined to counter criticism that three $2 billion resort casinos will cannibalize existing hotels, restaurants and South Florida's pari-mutuel casinos.

"Do we eat people's lunch? We don't,'' Au said. He said that because of the bill will result in an estimated increase of 4-6 million new visitors to South Florida, the Seminole Tribe will see their revenues jump 20-40 percent while the pari-mutuels will see a 50-100 percent increase in business.

Au also offered the committee a series of guarantees: 100,000 jobs will be created, 10 global express airlines will be flying to Miami, Resorts World Miami will sell at least 100,000 tickets each year to Disney, the region will experience 5 percent economic growth including $1.7 billion in revenues to the state and $98 million for the county.

The numbers and tone were just a bit too much for the bill's sponsor, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale.

“With all due respect I think they’re over the top,'' she said after the meeting. "I don’t know how you say you’re going to create 100,000 jobs when we have existing businesses that are going to probably survive. There is no way you’re going to get 100,000.”

Genting's architectural rendering "is beautiful,'' she said. "It’s sparked a conversation but I’d like them to tone it down and be realistic. People have a tendency to over-promise.”

As for Au's coarse language, Bogdanoff added: “The chairman should have said, 'By the way, that’s a curse word in English.' I talk like that, but I don’t do it in a public forum or in a committee meeting. It’s just kind of funny. I just want him to tone the rhetoric down.”

 

[Last modified: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 12:49pm]

    

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