In Saturday's edition of the Miami
Herald, former U.S. Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart penned an opinion letter shilling for his client, Genting, the Malaysian-based
gaming conglomerate that wants to transform the last prime piece of
downtown Miami's waterfront land into a gargantuan casino.
Diaz-Balart cautions Herald
readers "to see through the scare tactics," supposedly being used
Disney Co. to state attorney general Pam Bondi. Yet, Diaz-Balart uses
disingenuous misinformation to relay his message to the residents of
Let's count the way's Lincoln is wrong:
He claims "Native Americans have a casino monopoly for which they cannot be taxed." Not exactly. Last year, the state legislature approved the gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that will pay the state an estimated $1 billion during the first five years of a 20-year deal. The tribe, which operates five casinos in Florida including Hollywood's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, has threatened to terminate the compact if the proposed bill for the "destination resorts" passes.
"Each of the three destination resorts would be required to make an investment of at least $2 billion in our community," Diaz-Balart writes. But he doesn't mention that the three resorts would only have to submit to a measly 10 percent annual tax rate while South Florida parimutuel casinos like Gulfstream Park are taxed at 35 percent.
As a barometer for the jobs Genting will bring to Miami, Diaz-Balart brags that Genting recently opened its casino at the Aqueduct horse track in Queens, which will employ a majority of its 1,500 workers from within New York City.
Yet Diaz-Balart doesn't explain the Queens racino is located in a depressed neighborhood, miles away from Manhattan, or that Genting agreed to pay the Empire State a $380 million upfront fee and a 66 percent tax rate to build a gambling facility that is significant smaller than the company's proposed Miami resort.
Diaz-Balart also boasts how Singapore, where Genting operates one of two casino resorts in the Asian city-state, "has created 60,000 jobs without changing its character, its brand."
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Indeed, Singapore's government has maintained its draconian reputation for regulating the behavior of its citizens, who are required to pay $80 for a one-day pass to enter one of the casinos. Family members can also blacklist gambling addicted relatives from entering the casinos, which are banned from promoting or advertising locally.The ex-congressman's phony arguments weren't lost on some Herald readers who admonished Diaz-Balart in the online comments section.
"Congressman Diaz-Balart may think that destination gambling will not change South Florida's brand. But the fact that he is willing to sell his credibility and prestige to the gambling industry as a lobbyist surely hurts the Diaz-Balart brand," writes Tom Highway.
Another commentator, YoYoMano, adds, "to have a 'family values' politico sell his soul to the gambling industry is such a vivid and public way is almost joyful poetic justice. But the stakes are too high for gloating."