Make us your home page
Instagram

PAC exploring putting casino gambling on ballot linked to Malaysian developer Genting Group

TALLAHASSEE — Genting Group appears to be intensifying its push to allow voters to make the final decision on whether Las-Vegas style gambling comes to South Florida.

Recently released financing reports show a political action group linked to the Malaysia-based conglomerate is spending big on an apparent campaign to get voters to approve a constitutional amendment in favor of resort-style casinos.

The gaming giant failed to win legislative approval from lawmakers earlier this year, despite spending millions of dollars on lobbying and campaign contributions. Now a Genting-linked political committee — New Jobs and Revenue For Florida — is directing funds toward a potential 2014 voter petition drive, which could offer an alternative path to accomplishing the goal of building multibillion-dollar casino resorts in South Florida.

"New Jobs and Revenue for Florida is an exploratory effort to consider whether or not there are ways to have more entertainment options in Florida," said committee spokesperson Brian Hughes.

State campaign finance records show that two Jamaica, N.Y.-based companies affiliated with Genting — Bayfront 2011 Development LLC, and Resorts World Miami LLC — gave the political action committee a total of $605,500 between April 11 and May 16.

Records also show the political action committee spent nearly $600,000 in the last three months on voter-petition consultants, constitutional scholars and pollsters who have worked for Gov. Rick Scott.

The spending included $50,000 to Nation Voter Outreach, a Nevada-based political consulting firm that, according to its website, specializes in "organizing signature drives to qualify issues and candidates for the ballot."

Genting also directed $200,000 to Bruce Rogow, a constitutional scholar and Fort Lauderdale-based lawyer who worked on the 2004 constitutional amendment approving slots in South Florida. Another $350,000 went to Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, a political consulting company headed up by Scott's strategist, Tony Fabrizio.

Genting's Miami-based subsidiary stopped short of saying a petition drive was in the works.

"Our contribution to New Jobs and Revenue for Florida is simply one more example of our commitment to exploring how to enhance entertainment and hospitality choices here," Resorts World Miami spokesman Corey Tilley said in a statement on Friday.

But critics of casino gaming said it's clear that Genting is trying to take the issue directly to voters in 2014.

"This is the first time that Genting's true ambitions are being revealed," said Dan Gelber, a former Democratic state senator from Miami Beach. "And they're trying to get a change to the state Constitution."

Brad Swanson of the Florida Chamber of Commerce called the push for a constitutional amendment an assault.

The chamber, a powerful business group in Tallahassee, came out strongly against Genting's plans during this year's legislative session.

In Florida, an organization has to get signatures from 8 percent of the voters in the last presidential election in order to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot. After completing that hurdle, a proposal must be approved by 60 percent of the voters in order to become law.

Recent polls show strong support for casino gambling in South Florida, but plenty of skepticism in other parts of the state.

Three other times when casino initiatives made it onto the ballot — in 1978, 1986 and in 1994 — voters blocked the effort. Slots in Miami-Dade and Broward counties were approved in 2004.

"Florida voters have seen this issue before and they have rejected it consistently," said Swanson. "We believe the Florida voters are smart on issues such as gambling and ultimately they'll make the right decision."

Genting has said the luxury casinos would bring billions of dollars of revenue into the state and help jump-start the economy with thousands of new jobs.

"Job creation and expanding economic opportunity for the people of Florida are goals we are proud to support," said Tilley.

Miami Herald reporter Elaine Walker contributed to this article. Toluse Olorunnipa can be reached at tolorunnipa@MiamiHerald.com and on Twitter @ToluseO

PAC exploring putting casino gambling on ballot linked to Malaysian developer Genting Group 07/13/12 [Last modified: Friday, July 13, 2012 11:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rick Scott appoints 'my friend,' Jimmy Patronis, as Florida CFO

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Monday appointed a long-time friend and political supporter, Jimmy Patronis, to replace Jeff Atwater as Florida's next chief financial officer, making him one of three members of the Cabinet that sets state policy on a wide range of issues. He'll take over Friday.

    Rick Scott appoints Jimmy Patronis (background) as CFO. [STEVE BOUSQUET | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. Local gas prices plummet as Fourth of July holiday travel approaches

    Tourism

    TAMPA — Local gas prices are enjoying an unseasonal dip around the $2 mark just in time for the hectic Fourth of July holiday travel weekend.

    The price of regular unleaded gasoline has dropped to $1.99 at a Rally station on Pasadena Ave. South and Gulfport Boulevard South, South Pasadena.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  3. Air bag recalls, lawsuits lead Takata to file for bankruptcy

    Autos

    Shattered by recall costs and lawsuits, Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. filed Monday for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., saying it was the only way it could keep on supplying replacements for faulty air bag inflators linked to the deaths of at least 16 people.

    Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. CEO Shigehisa Takada bows during a press conference in Tokyo on Monday. Takata has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of defective air bag inflators.
[(AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi]
  4. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.

    Corporate

    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  5. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]