Casino Watch Focus has reported on the ongoing attempts to expand gambling via a new Vegas-Style casino in the Miami area. Most attempts are geared toward establishing new casinos, but now discussions are underway that seek to transfer existing licenses to new jurisdictions. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber is speaking out in hopes of bringing the process to light. The Miami-Herald reports:
Republican leaders in Tallahassee are quietly considering an effort to allow casino owners to transfer gambling licenses to venues in locales that have banned gaming and preempt local restrictions, setting up a fight between cities, anti-gaming forces and state lawmakers in Florida, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber warned Wednesday.
Gelber raised his concerns during the city’s commission meeting, saying that private conversations in Tallahassee could lead to legislation that would allow for a casino at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel. Jeffrey Soffer — who owns the Fontainebleau and the Big Easy Casino in Broward County — has pushed for years to allow for gambling at his Beach resort.
Gelber also alluded to efforts by Genting Group, which owns the former Miami Herald bayfront property near downtown Miami, to build a casino resort. Also Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that the Trump Organization is lobbying for legislation in Tallahassee that would allow for a casino at the Trump National Doral Miami.
“This is a very frightening moment,” Gelber said, later telling the Miami Herald that “the measure … is going to first help give it to the Fontainebleau, and then one of those other two locations.”
Speculation grew about a Trump Casino in particular, but just how likely is it that they could expand the casino business in Florida at this time? A deep dive by an online casino trade source indicates its not very like, and some obstacles exist for other casino companies as well:
The troubles facing former President Donald Trump’s faltering business empire were well documented by /Bloomberg News/ this week. Jumping back into the casino industry, however, probably isn’t the most viable solution that would be offered up by Trump’s creditors. They are owed some $590 million in loans that come due over the next few years.
Based on Trump’s gaming industry track record, bankruptcy lawyers could be the only group excited by news reports that he may be eyeing a casino for his struggling Trump National Doral golf club near Miami. However, Florida’s Seminole Indian Tribe, Disney Corp., and the state constitution block the path for another Trump gaming enterprise.
Together, the Seminoles and Disney have spent millions of dollars defeating Florida gaming expansion efforts. In 2018, they threw their considerable weight behind the passage of Amendment 3, which changed the state constitution. Casino-style gambling can’t be expanded away from tribal lands unless it is approved in a statewide ballot measure that earns at least 60% support.
Republican legislators in Florida are reportedly considering a bill that would allow the gaming-license transfer process. But the idea has drawn opposition from the anti-gaming lobby. Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told the Associated Press that the governor and legislative Republicans would have to choose between “loyalty to Trump or loyalty to their constituents.”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may be a Trump ally, but who is going to bet against the Seminoles, Disney, and the constitution? Even if Trump were to acquire a gaming license, good luck financing a casino deal.
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