Despite having spent over a million dollars trying to impress lawmakers in the state, Jeffrey Soffer’s hopes of moving his Florida casino are almost nil. Soffer is behind the Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach and the Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach and was hoping to be able to shift his casino license to the upscale Miami Beach property. Lawmakers confirmed that this isn’t going to be possible, at least not anytime soon, and have also denied the possibility that the Trump National Doral could receive a casino license.
No Special Favors in Special Session
Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson has confirmed that the subject of new casino licenses won’t come up when the Senate meets in a special session this month. According to CBS Miami, Simpson asserts, “I do not think that that’s being contemplated in this special session. Actually, I know it’s not. We put out the call yesterday and it would prohibit that type of activity.” In addition, an unidentified Republican aide asserted that any lawmaker who tries to bring up the topic in the special session will be “ruled out of order.”
Soffer has invested a lot of money and resources into trying to be able to move his license from Hallandale Beach to Miami Beach, about 20 miles to the south. Trump National, which is tied to former POTUS Donald Trump and part of the Trump Organization portfolio, has hinted that it wanted to secure a gaming license for the property in order to keep it alive. Local officials in both Miami Beach and Doral have opposed the ideas.
Gambling Future Hinges On Sports
The upcoming special legislative session has been called in order to discuss a new gaming compact Governor Ron DeSantis worked out with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. In it, the tribe was given almost complete control of sports gambling in exchange for a couple of concessions related to casino gambling, including the possibility of Miami Beach seeing a casino. There is also a provision for three more tribal casinos to be built across Florida by the Seminole Tribe.
The special session will begin on May 17 and will dissect the new gaming compact, which is likely to fall apart. In 2018, Florida voters approved a state measure that allows them to decide on gambling expansion. Many have already indicated that they want to be included in any new gaming arrangements with the Seminole Tribe and, should there be enough resistance to the DeSantis/Seminole deal, the compact could fall apart. That potentially means that not only will there be no new casino gaming options in the state, but that sports gambling might not make it to the finish line, either.