A recent Miami Herald opinion piece by Pulitzer Prize winner Fabiola Santiago — “Last thing Miami needs is to become Vegas”, published on Friday — is astoundingly spot on. Astounding because it so frankly states why Miami should resist the false allure of the casino, and more so because the Herald’s previous coverage of the issue has been so slanted.
The piece starts with a lean declaration. “I hate Las Vegas,” Santiago says, before giving an explanation that does not ask for your agreement.
Everything about that city is a grand fake, a man-made mirage. From the moment you land to the second before you leave, with the addicted still gambling on the last machines by the boarding gate, everything turns into a manipulated experience aimed at evoking a cheap thrill, the kind that costs plenty, wanes quickly and leaves you empty.
There is a reason Santiago is sharing her hatred of a city more than 2,500 miles away: a strengthening push by local and state politicians to turn Miami into a gambling destination, a tropical Las Vegas. A Tallahassee court recently cleared the way for legislators to expand gambling in South Florida, and Malaysian conglomerate Genting plans to turn Herald plaza, a recent acquisition, into a “mega casino-hotel-restaurant complex”.
Not only will the complex — which she dubs “the monster on the bay” — snarl traffic downtown, says Santiago, but it will dissuade suburbanites from patronizing two up-and-coming neighborhoods, Wynwood and the Design District. “Who wants to be in the midst of addicted gamblers, high-stakes prostitution and organized crime?” she asks.