The billionaire owner of Fontainebleau Miami Beach is pouring money into political donations to secure a casino in his Florida hotel.
donated more than $300,000 last year to political action committees
According to finance reports, Jeffrey Soffer has made significant donations to Florida lawmakers to achieve his goal. Those tied to the real estate developer donated more than $300,000 last year to political action committees (PACs). This money contributes to various campaigns, including nine Republicans representing Miami-Dade County.
The two-month Florida legislature begins this week and on the agenda are bills that could open the door to casino hotels in Miami. They would allow those with greyhound dog racing permits and authorization to conduct casino activities to move the operations of “all pari-mutuel wagering and gaming activities” to Miami. This would include Soffer’s Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach.
Parties linked to Fontainebleau and Big Easy Casino donated $50,000 to the Republican Party of Florida in September. Last June, they also donated $25,000 to the Florida Senatorial Republican Campaign Committee.
In the past, Soffer has gone to great lengths to sell his idea of moving a gambling permit from his Broward-based Big Easy Casino to the Fontainebleau.
Since acquiring the Big Easy, known then as the Mardi Gras Casino and Race Track, Soffer has provided more than $2.5m in political donations, including $250,000 in 2021 and 2022 to a PAC supporting Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Miami Beach has banned casinos since 2017 and is one of the most anti-gambling areas in Florida.
they’ve so often been the target for a casino”
According to John Sowinski, who runs the “No Casinos” group, people have been “trying for years” to bring a casino to the area. “Miami Beach is among the most anti-casino jurisdictions anywhere in Florida because they’ve so often been the target for a casino,” he added.
Sowinski said any attempts to further this will only force people living in Miami Beach to oppose measures. If progress is made, it would draw the attention of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. In 2021, the tribe negotiated a deal with DeSantis, paving the way for online and retail betting across the state.
However, in the agreement, DeSantis agreed not to oppose new casinos over 15 miles from the tribe’s gambling hubs in the Hollywood area. Miami Beach is around 17 miles away from the Seminole Hard Rock Casino.
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