Luther "Luke" Campbell, the man whose booty-shaking madness 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, Campbell explains why the Genting Group, the Malaysian gambling company that bought the Miami Herald and Omni properties, won't save the city.
The Genting Group plans to redevelop the Miami Herald's waterfront home into a megacasino with hotels, condos, restaurants, and shops. Sure, there's a lot of potential to generate much-needed revenue for the City of Miami. But the type of resort that Genting executives are promoting will suck the life out of everything else in the Magic City and Miami Beach. And I don't buy into the promises that Genting will create 30,000 permanent well-paying jobs for Miami residents.
In order for the project to be successful, Genting must make sure no customer ever leaves the site. Chief Executive KT Lim won't want his hotel guests and high rollers taking their rental cars over the MacArthur Causeway to enjoy fine dining at Joe's Stone Crab or Prime One Twelve. And the party will no longer be centered at LIV or Mansion. He will make sure he has bigger and better versions of those entrenched Miami establishments to keep his customers from even thinking about venturing elsewhere.
Genting will spare no expense to bring in top shows and entertainers. So you can forget about catching Cirque du Soleil at the Arsht Center. Those high-flying performers will have a regular gig inside Genting's casino palace just as they do in Las Vegas and Macao. Genting even has plans for a convention center double the size of the one in Miami Beach.
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Miamians will get hired to sweep the floors, change the sheets, and serve the food. We don't have a workforce experienced in manning gambling tables and managing the casino floor. Genting has to bring those people in from places that have a gambling industry, like Vegas, the Bahamas, or Singapore, where the company already has major casino resorts.
Yet it looks like there is no stopping Genting. Watch politicians such as Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez as well as our state senators and representatives during the next few months. They will be lining up to support the World Resorts Miami boondoggle because Genting and its associates will raise bundles of campaign cash. The company basically has to do this to win Tallahassee's approval for a gaming license. Heck, the company is rumored to have taken a few state legislators on a tour of its Singapore site to grease them up.
If I were mayor, I'd tell Genting thanks but no thanks.