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Genting's election year strategy: big checks and many bets

Genting Group, the Malaysian casino giant, is seeding its bets across Florida’s political spectrum this election year as it continues to secure the foothold it needs to build a Miami casino empire.

The company, which bought the Miami Herald building in downtown Miami with $236 million in cash in 2011 and tried unsuccessfully to get destination resort casinos approved by lawmakers this year, has spent $1.3 million so far in the 2012 election cycle and has embarked on a two-pronged political strategy.

Half of its money has been steered into a petition drive for a pro-casino amendment to the state Constitution that would bypass the Legislature to bring casinos to Florida. The other half of its cash so far — $486,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and $111,000 to the Florida Democratic Party — was primarily given before the legislative session and is being used to back incumbents or political committees, according to a Herald/Times analysis of campaign reports.

The company said it has no direct involvement in any local or legislative races, countering rumors that it has recruited and screened candidates, and says that the cash it has sent to the parties is being steered to the campaigns of casino supporters and opponents alike. Story here.

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