Miami-Dade County and its State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle are being sued by the Genting Group in what seems to be an attempt to force the state to allow the Malaysian casino operator to provide slots and card games at the former Omni mall.
The legal maneuver appears to be designed to circumvent the denial by the state’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Waging in 2014 of the request by Gulfstream Park to relocate a permit for pari-mutuel wagering to the Omni in Dade, where the racetrack at Hallandale Beach had an agreement with the Genting Group to establish a casino. Gulfstream’s permit allows the operation of card games and slot machines on the same premises where pari-mutuel betting is taking place.
A Genting affiliate signed a lease with Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred Aftercare Retirement Program, Inc. on April 25 for space at the Omni, where pari-mutuel wagering would be operated. Two days later, Resorts World Omni, a real-estate division of Genting, filed the lawsuit on April 27 asking a judge to declare it legal for Gulfstream to operate a casino at the Omni, as reported by The Next Miami. If the order is granted, it would prevent criminal charges from being filed against the Omni casino operators by state prosecutors and the Miami-Dade police.
The lawsuit against the state’s attorney and Miami-Dade County seeks a declaratory judgement that would clarify Gulfstream’s legal right to operate at the Omni. Whether or not Gulfstream’s permit is limited to use in Broward or whether it can be used in Dade, is the issue. In the 2014 denial, the regulating agency said that only in Broward was the permit valid.
Attorney Chris Kise, with the Tallahassee office of Foley & Lardner, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Resorts World Omni, said, “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,” according to the Miami Herald. Spokesman for Fernandez Rundle’s office, Ed Griffith, said the lawsuit that the office was served with has been referred to the civil office of the state attorney general in Fort Lauderdale.
In 2011, Genting acquired the 14-acre site of the former Miami Herald for $236 million, along with the surrounding properties, including the Omni mall and hotel, and plans to build a $3 million luxury casino Resorts World Miami were announced. In February, Genting agreed to build a baywalk underneath the I-395 highway, which will connect the former newspaper site and Museum Park, as well as provide better connectivity to Biscayne Bay.