When the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City was razed last month, it reportedly marked the end of an era. It was the last gambling property still in existence with ties to former President of the US (POTUS) Donald Trump and its disappearance from the city’s skyline essentially closed the book on Trump’s casino activity. However, a new book could soon emerge that would bring it back to life. Eric Trump, Donald Trump’s son and head of the Trump Organization, wants to convert a family-owned property in Florida into a casino.
Miami Doral Resort Could Offer Gambling
The Washington Post reports that Trump is lobbying for the Miami Doral Resort in South Florida to become a casino resort. The property currently has 640 hotel rooms and four golf courses but has been struggling to survive for years. The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t helped and revenue at the property plummeted by $57 million last year. That led to a string of layoffs and furloughs that affected over 550 employees and served as the catalyst for the idea of converting the property into a gambling resort.
The former POTUS had tried previously to convince Florida lawmakers to expand gambling options in the state, pushing for them to approve new casino licenses. However, in 2018, Florida voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution that specifies casino gambling expansion would be determined by the voters, not lawmakers. A new bill expected to be introduced soon could change that.
Lawmakers Consider New Casino Licenses
Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson is reportedly behind an initiative that would allow real estate developers to issue gambling permits to certain properties. The licenses would be conceded without local government intervention. The Trump family has close ties to the Republicans in Florida’s legislature, including current governor Ron DeSantis.
Katie Betta, Simpson’s spokesperson, told The Post, “Gaming negotiations are extremely complicated, and while Simpson believes the efforts are worthy, it is also important to be realistic about where we are.” She added that the Senate head “has been involved in these negotiations for years, and if they get to a place where he believes an agreement would benefit the State of Florida and have the support of his colleagues in the Legislature as well as the Governor, he would be happy to discuss further details.”
Resistance to the Measure Likely
In addition to any resistance given by the Seminole Indians, as well as the constitutional amendment from three years ago, it’s very likely that any attempt to introduce a new casino in Florida will face a difficult path to success. At least one local real estate developer isn’t enthusiastic about the proposal, either, and is ready to oppose the bill. As the news surfaces, more opposition is likely.
Armando Codina has developed properties around the Doral area and believes any initiative to approve the conversion of the Miami Doral Resort is misguided. He believes the negotiations are taking place “in a dark room” without the benefit of public input and that it would damage the area’s family-friendly atmosphere. Another opponent to the idea is Florida Representative Joseph Geller, who pointed out to The Post, “[Trump] has bankrupted every casino he’s ever run. How do you bankrupt a casino? I don’t think we need a failed casino. We don’t want to be the next Atlantic City.”