Gambling Company Shifts Focus from Voters to Lawmakers in Florida

Genting, the Malaysian gaming company giant, has big plans for the state of Florida. The company is in the process of developing what would be the largest entertainment project in state history. At the center of that project is Genting’s desire to put a casino floor in the mega-complex.

The company has been stonewalled by the Florida Legislature in their effort to expand the current laws regarding casinos, and Genting joined forces earlier this year with the New Jobs and Revenues for Florida group that began collecting signatures to have the issue placed on the ballot.

After surveying the situation, Genting has decided to back off the push for signatures. The move is being applauded in Tallahassee, where lawmakers have been working on their own version of gambling expansion throughout the year.

The 2012 legislative session has ended without a new casino gambling bill, but that does not mean lawmakers have completely tabled the issue. Instead, Senate leaders have proposed a year break from creating a casino bill with the hope that much more research can be done on the subject.

Genting may have calculated their odds of going around the lawmakers and decided it would be wise to let the legislators figure out the future of gaming in the Sunshine State on their own.

“We believe they’re going to do things the right way,” said Genting lobbyist Brian Ballard. “We spoke with the Senate president and the speaker of the House and told them we’re not going to be collecting signatures or going after the petition drive.”

The issue comes down to a calculated risk for Genting. The company has plans for a multi-billion dollars entertainment center on the former home of the Miami Herald. Genting purchased the land in 2011, fueling speculation that the company would soon lobby for a casino.

Genting, however, revealed their plans later that year, plans that include four hotels, over 50 restaurants and bars, and a large lagoon and beach surrounding the facility. The casino would be a bonus for an attration that is sexpected to become one of the top entertainment destinations in the world.

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