Colin Au paced the polished marble floors of Miami’s fanciest hotel, waiting for the go-ahead to jumpstart a lavish development plan already on a fast track.
Au and his fellow Genting executives had stunned the city five months earlier on a May morning by announcing the Malaysian casino company’s purchase of The Miami Herald headquarters and plans to build a massive “destination resort” there. Genting promised a resort so spectacular and grand that it would lure vacationers from around the world, with or without a change in Florida’s gambling laws to allow a casino.
That was the plan, and now that plan was about to change dramatically. Minutes before a ballroom reception at the Four Seasons Miami, Genting Chairman K.T. Lim arrived with the news he had just signed a $161 million deal to gain control of the Omni complex adjoining The Miami Herald land. Genting promised to open a casino there within six months of Florida changing its laws.
“We are taking a calculated risk,” Au said just before unveiling his plan to a crowd of local business leaders and elected officials. “We are responding to the concerns and trying to create jobs as fast as possible. The Omni is what’s called a decorator-ready solution.”
But the effort was beset by certain political realities and at least one key message foul-up by Au, who repeatedly called some criticisms "bullshit" during a Florida Senate committee.