CEOs split on the question of gambling

We have plenty of gambling in South Florida already and I’m struggling to see the overall benefit to our community. I can’t find a person to look me in the eye and say that they are happy to raise children in a community that is willing to make a big long term bet on gambling. We all need to focus on the key word in the conversation — “gambling.”

— Eddy Arriola, chairman, Apollo Bank

I’m in favor of things that stimulate the economy of this area. If it’s proven that destination gambling can do this, and the unintended consequences can be handled well, then I can support it.

— Ben Baldanza, CEO, Spirit Airlines

South Florida has attracted residents and visitors for decades due to our warm climate, natural beauty, and strong ties to Latin America. The past decade has seen an explosion in arts and culture, adding to our appeal as a wonderful place to live and visit. All of our maturation as a community has occurred organically. I feel very strongly that destination gambling would, at the very least, set back our progress and, at worst, undo much of what we have gained. We are a major destination without casinos, why risk all that we have accomplished as a community for the dubious promise of additional tax revenue?

— Ana-Marie Codina Barlick, CEO, Codina Partners

I feel Destination gambling would conflict with South Florida’s focus on growing a well-diversified economy that attracts the best talent across growth industries such as technology, life sciences, financial services and healthcare. Our neighborhoods are developing rich character and our arts and culture organizations are excelling. All of this is leading to quality employers and new talent flowing in. Widespread gaming could adversely affect these positive trends.

— Tere Blanca, CEO, Blanca Commercial Real Estate

I feel that the time, effort and funds needed to build a successful gambling industry could be better spent on developing entrepreneurial or technological ventures to draw businesses and people to South Florida that will raise the status of the tri-county area both in the eyes of Americans and the international business community.

— Daniel Cane, CEO, Modernizing Medicine

I really am not fully informed on this issue, which is complex and has many competing points of view. Generally speaking, however, anything that brings more people to experience all we have to offer in Southern Florida is a good thing.

— Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corp.

No. We're already a top destination. South Florida does not need to become Atlantic City...we currently have enough venues around town that offers gambling. We need to focus on diversifying our industries. I'm not convinced that branding South Florida as a gambling destination will make us any better as a community.

— Fabiola Fleurvanil, CEO, Blueprint Creative

The World Trade Center Miami is focused on increasing exports/imports and thus we have not taken a position on this matter.

— Charlotte Gallogly, president, World Trade Center Miami

I am uncertain of the full range of short or long term benefits / risks associated with gambling – aside from those discussed the most.

— Marcell D. Haywood, CEO, DirtPros

On the subject of gambling you can see merits for and against, like jobs and economic growth; there are risks that have to be managed.

— Mike Jackson, chairman and CEO, Autonation

While I would prefer we have no gambling in SoFla, we already have legal gambling today with our existing casinos. I support a thoughtful, tourism friendly, jobs friendly, tax revenue positive solution to having casinos on a limited basis. The destination approach seems to make the most sense.

— Keith Koenig, president, City Furniture

I am uncertain because I can see both the opportunity this would provide from an economic development perspective given our huge tourism and service sectors but also see the perceived negatives that are typically associated with destination gambling cities.

— Ana Lopez-Blazquez, CEO, Baptist Health Enterprises

I believe it will provide our economy with another industry that will have consistent employment needs which will temper South Florida's historical economic peaks and valleys.

— Brad Meltzer, president, Plaza Construction Group Florida

Yes, with caution to make sure we are careful about how it changes the landscape of miami. I believe there are appropriate locations and uses for gaming throughout South Florida, but I don¹t support it defining who and what Miami is about.

— John Kunkel, CEO, 50 Eggs

No, because it is a single-stop business.

— Bruce Orosz, president and CEO, ACT productions

My personal view, not that of Swire which has no position, I do not think it is in keeping with Miami’s evolution as an international city.

— Steve Owens, president, Swire Properties

No, for the simple fact that gambling ruins lives and destroys families, and we don’t need that in our community. Also, take a look at what’s happening in Atlantic City: one bankrupt casino after another.

— Lauren "Lolo" Reskin, owner, Sweat Records

Yes, but with some important caveats. Gambling is a part of the landscape of our community already. So this is not about legalizing gambling. Any expansion can be capped and controlled through a variety of means to help avoid the social ills that many are ready to point out in communities that do not mirror our own. We do not have to build a gambling mecca to allow gambling in the array of entertainment options in our community. There are many beautiful destinations around the world that have controlled resort gambling. They cater to travelers that enjoy that form of recreation alongside the amenities of fine resorts. They do not define the city, in and of themselves.

— Penny Shaffer, South Florida market president, Florida Blue

Legalizing destination gambling in South Florida is great for our tourism- based economy!

— Maureen A. Shea, CEO, Right Management

I must defer to others that have studied this issue.

— Steven D. Sonenreich, president and CEO, Mount Sinai Medical Center

Florida is already home to widespread gaming, yet the state is not capturing the full benefits when it comes to taxation and tourism. Our firm represents interests that are working to expand gaming in Florida and I believe that destination resort casinos -- if implemented the right way and with adequate infrastructure -- can be an asset for our state and our region in particular.

— John Sumberg, managing partner, Bilzin Sumberg

Any increase in tourism revenue will more than be offset by other costs to be borne by our society and the impact on our quality of life and safety.

— Teresa Weintraub, President and CEO, Fiduciary Trust International of the South


Do you favor legalizing destination gambling in South Florida?

Yes 24%

No 40 %

Uncertain 36 %

Of 25 CEO Roundtable members surveyed