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Silvia Pavlof February 1, 2024 3 min read
Controversy Brews Over Proposed Miami Beach Casino as Lobbying Intensifies
The discussion has attracted prominent individuals to participate, among them billionaire hedge fund manager Ken Griffin
A brewing clash between proponents and opponents of a proposed casino at the iconic Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach is expected to take center stage in Tallahassee next week, as state lawmakers gear up for a heated debate.
Opposition Mounts Against Fontainebleau Casino Plans in South Florida
A coalition of influential South Florida business figures, including billionaire auto magnate Norman Braman and developer Armando Codina, is spearheading a vigorous lobbying effort aimed at derailing legislation that would pave the way for a Las Vegas-style casino at the Fontainebleau, reported the Miami Herald. The group, joined by Miami Beach city officials and residents, is vehemently opposed to the expansion of casino gambling in the area.
Braman, echoing the sentiments of many in the community, emphasized in an interview that they did not want casino gambling there, stating it was just that simple.
Miami Beach Mayor Steven Meiner underscored the unity among local leaders, expressing his belief that they all felt very strongly about the matter and were united on it.
The contentious proposal, embodied in Senate Bill 1054 and House Bill 1127, is slated for its inaugural hearing before state lawmakers on February 5. While the Senate Regulated Industries Committee has confirmed its agenda, House Republican leaders remain tight-lipped about the bill’s fate.
The debate has drawn high-profile figures into the fray, including billionaire hedge funder Ken Griffin, who penned a scathing op-ed condemning the proposed legislation. Griffin warned of the adverse effects of casino expansion, citing research linking it to gambling addiction, increased crime rates, and declining property values.
Fontainebleau Casino Sponsor Faces Backlash Over Alleged Ties
Meanwhile, the proposal’s sponsor, state Rep. Alex Rizo, has faced scrutiny for his ties to Jeff Soffer, the billionaire owner of the Fontainebleau. Soffer, who has long sought to establish a casino at the resort, has reportedly funneled significant sums into political contributions, raising concerns about undue influence.
Opponents of the casino plan have found a powerful ally in Griffin, whose vocal opposition adds weight to their cause. Griffin’s staunch stance against the legislation reflects a broader sentiment among Miami-Dade residents and lawmakers, who view the proposed casino as a threat to their community’s well-being.
Sen. Shevrin Jones, representing West Park, emphasized the need to respect the will of the people and urged legislators to reject the casino proposal. Similarly, Miami Republicans, including Sen. Bryan Avila and Ileana Garcia, have voiced reservations about the initiative, signaling potential roadblocks ahead.