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Push for casinos continues how will Blacks fare?

mcneir | 12/7/2011, 9:47 a.m.

Braynon: No deal has been made

With South Floridas economy still reeling with record unemployment and mounting home foreclosures, many heads turned when Genting purchased The Miami Heralds property with hopes of creating a state-of-the-arts casino resort. But after closer examination of their plan and after looking at how other cities have been impacted by casinos, some of our local business leaders and politicians appear to have some hesitancy about giving gambling their seal of approval. Remember that Florida voters have summarily defeated casino gambling on statewide initiatives for several decades. Despite that fact, 2012 is sure to be the year when the state legislature will debate the pros and cons of opening the door for more gambling. Its a simple decision that has to be made and it will have to be made in the state legislature, said Oscar Braynon, II, 34, Florida state senator. A lot of people including city and county commissioners are expressing their opinions which is good but they arent the ones that will have to ultimately decide. The bill that we will review in the next session hasnt even been heard in committee so it could change a lot by then. Right now it only speaks to Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Will Blacks make bucks on gambling? Braynon says that while most local media sources have not reported it, he is aware of a number of Black business leaders and politicians who are discussing the pros and cons of casino gambling weighing its impact on the Black community. Folks like Frank Nero [president of the Beacon Council] are making a huge news splash in his criticism of bringing casinos to Miami, Braynon added. But Blacks are having their own debates and doing their own analyses. If the resorts do come we have to do this in a responsible manner. We have to learn from the kinds of mistakes that Atlantic City made. This could certainly be positive for South Florida because were not just talking about casinos but also a $2 billion dollar hotel with conference rooms and restaurants. As long as communities like Overtown arent overlooked, this could be something very good for Blacks. Ive heard that planners are talking to Florida Memorial about a training program for their students who would then be prepared for dealers jobs and other related positions. That would be great for our young people. City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, 44, says she wants to meet with those who are proposing casino gambling but wants to have a solid game plan ready when they do. I have gotten a lot of calls and Ive been talking to folks from the Black Archives and Black property owners. Overtown is the closest thing to the proposed casino site they cant go east, they can only go west. We know that property value is going to rise. My objective is to make sure we can say to the casino people that we have a plan and then see how they can fit into our plan, not vice versa. Of course jobs are important, but we need to secure ownership options. We have to be prepared for whats coming.