The long-running attempt by Malaysian firm Genting Group to open a casino in downtown Miami has taken another turn after the neighboring resort city of Miami Beach filed a legal brief opposing the plan.
According to a report from the Miami Herald newspaper, Genting Group has been trying to obtain permission to bring a casino to the site of the former Omni International Mall overlooking Biscayne Bay since 2014. Following several set-backs, it filed a lawsuit against Miami-Dade County and Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney for Miami-Dade County, in late-April that asks a judge to pre-emptively declare as legal its attempt to transfer a casino license currently held by the nearby Gulfstream Park Racing And Casino to its downtown Miami plot.
Genting Group has extensive holdings in downtown Miami including the 14-acre site of the former headquarters of the Miami Herald, which it purchased in 2011 for $236 million, and the legal action from its Resorts World Omni real estate subsidiary would, if successful, preclude police and state prosecutors in Miami-Dade County from filing criminal charges against the casino operation.
“The purpose of the action is to ensure that our review of the relevant laws is accurate and to provide clarity and certainty that the activities contemplated by the lease are permissible,” Chris Kise, an attorney in the Tallahassee office of Foley And Lardner acting on behalf of Resorts World Omni, told the Miami Herald in April.
The lawsuit alleges that Gulfstream Park Racing And Casino, which is located 17 miles away in Broward County, has already relocated its casino license to Miami-Dade County while Kise declared that the regulating agency “doesn’t enforce the criminal laws” even though the state “may not agree” with this decision.
Although not a party to the original lawsuit, Miami Beach has now filed a “friend of the court” brief in opposition to a casino only 1.5 miles across the Venetian Causeway in downtown Miami. It argues that such a development would lead to “negative economic and social consequences”, draw tourists away from other businesses and increase crime and traffic congestion problems.