KUALA LUMPUR Jan 10 A unit of Malaysia's
Genting Bhd, Southeast Asia's biggest gaming group, is
making a renewed play for operations in Miami, Florida, after
previous plans for a $3.1 billion resort two years ago failed to
Genting Malaysia Bhd, a 47.1 percent subsidiary of
Genting Bhd, on Thursday formalized an agreement with three U.S.
horse-racing associations to build a Miami resort offering slot
machines and off-track betting.
Miami is an important gaming market with dog racing and
horse racing well established and Genting's slot machine-focused
facility would fit well with the older demographic of gamblers
in the city. Genting's previous bigger plans were criticised by
local leaders as out of scale with the neighbourhood.
Genting's original plan for a $3.1 billion resort envisioned
several skyscrapers and two condominium towers and would have
been one of the largest developments in Florida's history. The
revised plans call for a casino with 2,000 slot machines as part
of a smaller leisure and entertainment resort.
"We've been optimistic about Miami, but they've put a lot of
money in there. This is a last ditch attempt to make things
work, they're trying every avenue they can," said an analyst who
did not want to be named.
Officials with Genting could not be reached for comment on
Plans for the resort will depend on Genting receiving the
appropriate licences from authorities in Florida, which analysts
say could prove to be a challenge.
Florida legislators have twice rejected proposals from
developers of so-called "destination resorts" that would allow
the creation of two to three sizeable casino resorts so "the
regulatory approval remains a key hurdle," said Kuala
Lumpur-based Kenanga Research in a report.
Opposition came from Christian groups and companies like
Walt Disney that said the casinos would ruin the
"family-friendly" nature of tourism in Florida.
Shares of Genting Bhd gained 1 percent on Friday. It has
seen only a 1.9 percent increase over the past three months,
data from Thomson Reuters showed. The stock has 10 "buy"
recommendations, nine "hold" and two "sell'.
"This agreement suggests that the original plan has gone
down the drain, although we believe the market has prepared for
it after Florida lawmakers rejected the plan to bring three
major casinos to Miami," said Kuala Lumpur-based TA Research in
TA Research said the new proposal is "one of the workable
solutions" because the focus on slot machines and off-track
betting to support Genting's nearby development of a 14-acre
(5.7 hectare) parcel of land it acquired for $236 million in
The three associations Genting signed the deal with are
Gulfstream Park Racing Association Inc, the Florida Horsemen's
Benevolent & Protective Association Inc and the Florida
Thoroughbred Breeders' Association Inc.
In addition to the Florida proposal, Genting last month said
it would spend up to $4 billion to develop an unfinished resort
on the Las Vegas strip. Earnings from the United States made up
5.4 percent of the company's third-quarter revenue