Miami Beach has just said no to Steve Wynn. Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday night against supporting any expansion of gambling, pledging to lobby against a state bill that would allow three resort casinos to be built in South Florida.
Wynn, who owns Las Vegas' Bellagio, Encore, Wynn, Golden Nugget, Mirage, and Treasure Island casinos, had expressed interest in building a resort casino where the Miami Beach Convention Center now stands, in competition with the proposed Genting casino in Downtown Miami. Both proposed casinos have riled arts advocates who argue mega-casinos would damage Miami-Dade's cultural progress and likely force Art Basel Miami Beach out of town.
Miami Beach commissioners have consistently voted against gambling expansion, and Mayor Mattie Herrera Bower said the resolution, which cited casinos' "severe and painful economic and social costs," "corruption of the governmental process," and affect on traffic, according to the Miami Herald, went over as expected.
"I knew it was coming that way," Bower told NBCMiami. "I know my fellow commissioners and I know that we want the best for the beach."
Though the vote has no direct affect on what happens in Tallahassee, Miami Beach can still protect itself from a mega-casino even if the legislature approves House Bill 487 -- as written now, it requires local approval before the issuance of a gaming license.
Still, concerns remain that the Beach may lose out on tourist dollars if the bill -- and Genting's proposed Downtown casino -- are approved.
"The big 'but' is if something is going to happen across the bay from us in downtown somewhere," Fontainebleau Hotel president Phil Goldfarb told the Herald. "We as Miami Beach need to keep an open mind and keep our options open. If something like this gets built across the bay here and we're just sitting idly by we're going to have big, big problems competing in this business."
Miami Beach commissioners also voted to fund an economic impact study to demonstrate that casinos are bad for Miami Beach businesses, according to the Herald, and even discussed hiring a legal team to fight Genting's proposed casino in Miami.