THE BLOG
01/15/2014 12:20 pm ET Updated Mar 17, 2014

An Open Letter on Legalizing Gambling in Downtown

The people of Miami do not want gambling in downtown. In 2011, the Genting Group, a $47 billion Malaysian corporation, bought the 14-acre Miami Herald building and soon after announced plans to build the world's largest casino on the property. The people didn't want it, competitive casinos (Seminoles and the race tracks) didn't want it, and it died in the legislature. Genting went ahead and altered course. As far as gambling, they bought an island in Bimini and put a big boat (Resort World) in the Port of Miami and have been running day cruises -- where they have been experiencing a lot of problems and currently only run on weekends. As far as the Herald property, they promised to build luxury condos, a nice hotel and some space for retail and restaurants. They are about one-year behind schedule on these plans. The Herald sits vacant, not yet demolished but unoccupied.

Now, out-of-nowhere, as their off-shore gambling boat is floundering, the Genting group recently acquired a race track permit from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale. Genting is now publicly once again committed to putting slot machines in the Herald location.

Gambling is a state issue, decided by state government. Once decided, and the parameters are set, it is left to the municipalities and casino groups to adhere to the law. This is different. Genting might be powerful with lobbyists in Tallahassee and Miami but this is an issue where our voices must be heard and our leaders must listen. We don't want this.

Downtown is quickly evolving into a cultural urban center, and residents, homeowners, small businesses, and big institutions, don't want gambling.

There are no counter-points on this issue.

We don't want to hear about jobs and an increase in tourism. We don't need those jobs or those tourists in Downtown. People will come for our culture, not to gamble. We don't want to hear about what Genting promises to contribute to the neighborhood.

Quite honestly, their word isn't that reliable now.

Knock down the Herald eye-sore, and construct the freaking condos, like you promised. Bring the hotel and retail and restaurants, like you promised. Build the underpass connecting to the new Museum Park, like you promised. We have a saying in Miami: Do your job. If Downtown gets gambling, the media and people of this area will revolt and blame every elected official who allowed this to happen. Don't let this happen. Shame on Gulfstream Race Track for selling their permit to Genting. How dare some Hallandale business (I actually love horse racing) influence what we are doing in Downtown Miami.

How on earth can a race track permit from Broward even be valid at a non race track facility in Dade? It isn't. If Genting really wants to get into the gambling business, which seems to be their number one priority, maybe they should cut their losses in Miami and move up to Broward, which is a lot more friendly to the craft.