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Casinos in Miami Beach: controversy and opposition to possible legalization

Thursday 01 de February 2024 / 12:00

2 minutos de lectura

(Miami).- In a decisive move for the Miami Beach community, City Commissioner Alex Fernandez has called on residents to unite in Tallahassee next Monday, February 5, to express their opposition to the gambling expansion proposed by two significant bills: Senate Bill 1054 and its companion, House Bill 1127. The public rally seeks to influence a crucial Senate Committee hearing, a moment that the commissioner considers critical for the immediate future of this area of Florida.

Casinos in Miami Beach: controversy and opposition to possible legalization

The initiative emerges in response to legislative proposals that, if passed, would allow existing gaming permit holders to move their operations to new locations within a 30-mile radius. The legislation has sparked concern among Miami Beach residents and officials, who fear that the introduction of large-scale gambling will disfigure the character and safety of the city.

The commissioner has underscored the city's long-standing policy against casino gambling, reinforcing his stance with a series of resolutions and ordinances prohibiting such activities in all Miami Beach land use zones and categories.

The rejection is based on several considerations, including a notable endorsement by Florida voters of the Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative in 2018, showing a clear mandate against the expansion of gambling without direct citizen approval. Furthermore, the resolution that Fernandez plans to present highlights the severe economic and social costs that usually accompany expansive gambling, along with the detriment it would mean for tourism and the local business fabric. Such an expansion, according to critics, would not only affect Miami Beach but surrounding areas already established as business, cultural, artistic, commercial and residential destinations.

Alex Fernandez, in an opinion column published by The Miami Herald, highlighted the discordance between recent electoral decisions focused on public safety and a legislative proposal that seeks to expand gaming activities in the state and county, putting this key principle at risk. 

In his words: “The legislation under consideration in Tallahassee, Senate Bill 1054, threatens to reconfigure our community, deeply intertwined with our fundamental priorities of public safety and quality of life.”

This bill proposes to allow the relocation of gaming facilities within the state, including in areas like Miami Beach, where these activities are currently prohibited in all city zoning districts. The concern arises over the possibility that existing casino permit holders could transfer their gaming licenses to a new location within a roughly 30-mile (48-kilometer) radius of their current facility without a state and county voter referendum. required by the Florida Constitution. Fernandez argues that this would constitute a dangerous preemption, ruling out local zoning laws that prohibit the use of gambling.

Additionally, Miami Beach already faces considerable challenges, such as traffic congestion during high-impact events such as Memorial Day weekend and spring break. According to Fernandez in his column published in The Miami Herald, “The introduction of a casino and gaming would not only exacerbate these challenges, but also risks making them a permanent feature in our city.”

Adding to this is concern about overstretched transportation infrastructure, illustrated by Florida Department of Transportation level-of-service maps that show our accesses and major arteries on the brink of collapse.

Casinos, known for attracting significant traffic, could exacerbate congestion and put additional pressure on already overstretched transportation networks. But the effects are not limited to the area of traffic; As Fernandez points out, “Casinos are known for low wages, attracting organized crime and money laundering, and causing social ills including drug abuse, prostitution and gambling addiction, fundamentally impacting communities.”

Despite this, Miami Beach has a rich history of tourist attractions without resorting to gambling. In 2022, tourist resort tax collections reached unprecedented levels, demonstrating the city's strong appeal to visitors. That same year, voters approved a significant investment of nearly €142 million ($159 million) in arts and cultural institutions, reflecting a collective vision for a Miami Beach that prioritizes the arts as an essential component of its identity.

The city commission's opposition to gambling is well documented. Elected officials have consistently advocated against gambling. Fernandez highlights, “We maintain a firm stance against any state legislation that weakens the powers of local self-government.”

Miami Beach's stance against gambling is strong and a reflection of its community values, focused on public safety and quality of life. “The introduction of a casino in Miami Beach would represent more than a mere policy change; “It would mean a change that could intensify existing challenges and introduce new ones, particularly in the field of public security,” said Fernandez in his opinion column in The Miami Herald.


Tags: Sin tags

País: United States

Región: North America



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