Casinos, pot, and fun will save Miami's economy

C. Stiles

Uncle Luke, the man whose booty-shaking madness once made the U.S. Supreme Court stand up for free speech, gets as nasty as he wants to be for Miami New Times. This week, Luke — who is a candidate for Miami-Dade mayor — lays out his vision for kick-starting the local economy.

It's time for Miami to play to its greatest strengths: beautiful people, beautiful beaches, and beautiful weather. What do we need to do?

• Open casinos in Miami Beach hotels. Hey, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood is among the top-grossing gambling joints in the United States. So why not put more card games and slot machines in places that entertain our tourists?

• Allow medical marijuana dispensaries. We're missing out on a major growth industry. In March, Los Angeles voters approved a tax on pot distributors that is expected to generate $10 million a year to help pay for police, libraries, and street repairs.

• Create a water theme park near Miami Marine Stadium. Universal Studios or Disney could help. And Virginia Key, which was once the only place black people were allowed to swim, could be forever memorialized.

• Build movie studios. The Borscht Film Festival's success shows we have what it takes to compete with Atlanta to become the Hollywood of the South.

• Make Calle Ocho, Goombay, and other big ethnic festivals weeklong celebrations.

• Bring in the NBA All-Star Game, the NCAA Basketball Tournament, and traditional black college rivalry games.

Each one plays off having fun under the sun. Miami-Dade's unemployment rate dropped to 12 percent this past March because tourism is picking up.

We're already known as the city that created Miami Vice, so we might as well live up to the name. Gambling is a natural here. It's already bringing thousands of people to the old Flagler Dog Track, Gulfstream Park, and Calder. Back in the '20s, Miami was the American gambling mecca.

In fact, between the casinos, the theme park, the movie studios, and the dispensaries, we can create at least 20,000 jobs and $20 million in new tax revenue. Considering the hole that Carlos Alvarez and his friends dug for us, this is critical if we beautiful people plan to keep using our beautiful beaches and enjoying our beautiful weather.

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