Miami’s arts scene frames casinos as threat

Anti-casino advocates gathered in Miami’s artiest neighborhood Saturday morning and warned that bringing mega-casinos to South Florida threatens to reverse the city’s cultural progress.

Miami’s arts scene frames casinos as threat

With Miami’s cultural scene on the upswing, casino foes warn of a reversal if big resorts come. Arsht leader has “grave” concerns. But Genting says its resort will only help downtown.

By Douglas Hanks

Anti-casino advocates gathered in Miami’s artiest neighborhood Saturday morning and warned that bringing mega-casinos to South Florida threatens to reverse the city’s cultural progress.

“Downtown is finally becoming what we want downtown to be,’’ former Miami-Dade commissioner Katy Sorenson told a crowd of about 120 people at the Light Box Theater, a performance space in Wynwood. “We’ve got some unique, funky Miami kind of things going on. Why do we want to these huge mega-resorts to come in?”

The speakers at the Urban Environment League forum covered the full range of anti-casino arguments, from worries over gambling addictions to traffic woes if Florida approves a bill designed to bring three $2 billion casino resorts to South Florida. But the setting — the Goldman Warehouse, home to art non-profits and owned by Tony Goldman, the developer behind Wynwood’s emergence as a gallery district — highlighted the role the arts are playing in the debate.

In May, Genting Group announced its $236 million purchase of The Miami Herald site at an Adrienne Arsht Performing Arts Center conference room. The chairman of the center’s board, Mike Eidson, joined executives of the Malaysian casino company at that first press conference, and later talked about the center running a 700-seat theater for Genting.

But after the friendly debut, Eidson and others in the Arsht leadership backed off, voicing worries about Genting’s plan to build the world’s largest casino across the street. In an interview Saturday, Eidson, a prominent lawyer, spoke in the harshest terms yet on the Genting resort’s potential impact on the county-owned Arsht center as a cultural hub for downtown.

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