Nothing exemplifies the uncertainty and potential transformation South Florida faces than the debate over so-called destination resorts and the casinos their backers are campaigning to legalize.

Proponents promise the region will reap a financial windfall from thousands of jobs and millions of new tourists if the casino resorts are approved. Others fear South Florida will become a “Las Vegas East.”

The casino issue was one of many topics up for discussion at the Daily Business Review’s quarterly Business Advisory Board economic forecast roundtable.

In addition to gambling, the real estate market and its fragile recovery, drew the participants’ attention.

While property values — notably in the residential sector — remain depressed, there are positive signs. Sales of single family homes and condos increased in the third quarter.

Rentals of condos in Miami’s Brickell Avenue district are on the rise and that’s “a step forward,” according to Bruce Foerster of South Beach Capital Markets Advisory Corp.

Meanwhile, banks remain cautious. Local lenders have reduced their loan volume, but trade financing and funding of prime commercial real estate is strong.

The Review’s experts worried the area schools, which are struggling with budget cutbacks, are failing to help prepare the labor force of high-wage occupations in emerging industries.

And the economy is likely to continue to bump along, the panelists warned.

“We are in this ‘new normal’ economy of very slow growth,” said economist Tony Villamil of Washington Economics Group and dean of the business school at St. Thomas University.

Editor’s Note: The majority of the remarks for this report were delivered during a discussion by panelists who met at the Banker’s Club in Miami. They included Bruce Foerster, Erin Knight, Michael Maxwell and Tony Villamil. Roundtable member Michael Jones participated by phone from North Carolina. John Sumberg, who was out of the country at the time, delivered his remarks separately in a video interview.

Planned casino resort revives endless contentious debate
Genting Group, the Malaysian owner of hotels and casinos, has launched a debate over South Florida’s future as a gambling destination, which will remain unsettled until state lawmakers play their hand.

The long climb out of ‘new normal’ hole
About 310,000 unemployed people in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties were seeking jobs in September.

Sputtering residential sector will remain drag on industry
The Florida Association of Realtors recently reported that sales of single-family homes and condominiums increased year-over-year in the third quarter at double-digit rates throughout South Florida.

Schools struggling when they’re needed to train workers
South Florida must prepare its labor force for high-wage occupations in emerging industries, but public schools are straining to get the job done as they contend with budget cuts.

Despite hints of rebound, lenders cautious as credit recession persists
South Florida bankers generally want to extend more credit but are reluctant to relax loan terms and risk another surge in defaults.

dbrTV: John Sumberg talks about gambling in Miami
Bilzin Sumberg managing partner John Sumberg talks about the Genting/Herald deal and transforming Miami into a gambling resort.