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Florida Bill Would Allow Casinos to Relocate

Seminole Hard Rock Casino Tampa Florida
General view showing the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Tampa, Florida. Octavio Jones/Getty Images/AFP

Florida State Senator Blaise Ingoglia has recently filed a bill, SB 1054, that would allow Florida betting operators to move their operation up to 30 miles from their current location, but not within 15 miles of the Seminole Tribe’s Hollywood casinos.

Pack Up and Go

Entities with gaming or greyhound racing permits would be allowed to move “all pari-mutuel wagering and gaming activities” to a destination within 30 miles of the original location. The language in the bill stipulates that relocation could occur even if local government regulations prohibit it.

This state law would supersede any local ordinances, but the move could not be within 15 miles of the Seminole Tribes Hollywood area casinos including its Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.

SB 1054 mirrors the clause in the 2021 gaming compact with the Seminoles and states, “A pari-mutuel permitholder that relocates its pari-mutuel facility pursuant to subsection and that is authorized to operate slot machines at such facility may not relocate the pari-mutuel facility to a location in Miami-Dade or Broward Counties which is within a 15-mile radius, measured in a straight line, of any facility in Broward County operated by the Seminole Tribe of Florida which offers or is authorized to offer class III gaming, as defined in the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988.”

This bill, if passed, would allow more South Florida gaming resorts including the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach and Trump National Doral, both of which are beyond the 15-mile red zone of the Seminoles properties.

Eric Trump has previously stated that Doral would be a prime candidate for a casino license, “Many people consider Trump Doral to be unmatched from a gaming perspective — at 700 acres, properties just don’t exist of that size and quality in South Florida, let alone in the heart of Miami.”

Not Everyone’s a Fan

Former Miami mayor, Dan Gelber, was not fond of the bill and said, “I don’t think that we need it. Our economy is thriving, people are coming here, and we have a wonderful hospitality industry. All casinos do is cannibalize everybody else to usually just the benefit of a single person or business.” 

“If the Legislature goes along with (the bill) and the courts fail to do their job, there’s no way this will simply be a single casino,” Gelber added.

Another anti-gambling heavyweight, billionaire Norman Braman, texted that he would oppose the measure “by all means necessary” so that Miami won’t become “another Las Vegas.”

State Sen. Jason Pizzo, who represents parts of Miami-Dade and Broward counties where the casino relocations would likely land, left no doubt as to his feelings towards the bill, texting, “The bill sucks, and I look forward to it dying.”

Anti-gambling advocates would argue, among other things, that the bill would need the approval of the voters and that any local ordinances prohibiting gaming in those jurisdictions should take precedence in those communities regardless of the language in Senator Ingoglia’s bill.

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