Doral Implements Gambling Ban in Effort to Block Trump Resort Casino

Posted on: June 10, 2021, 10:14h. 

Last updated on: June 10, 2021, 10:42h.

The Doral, Florida City Council is taking proactive measures to make sure it’s much more difficult for a casino to come to town.

Trump Doral casino Florida Seminole
Donald Trump, then the president of the United States, is seen at his Trump Doral resort in 2017. Doral government officials are trying to make sure the property cannot one day host a casino. (Image: FilmMagic)

Last night, the council voted 4-0 in favor of an ordinance that exclusively prohibits all forms of gambling within the city’s limits. 

Casinos and commercial electronic simulated gambling devices could adversely impact surrounding communities,” the ordinance declares. “The Mayor and Council find that it is in the best interest of the public health, safety, and general welfare of the residents of Doral to prohibit gambling and casinos in the City of Doral.”

Doral is in Miami-Dade County, one of two counties in South Florida that allow slot machines at eligible and licensed pari-mutuel facilities, including racetracks and jai alai frontons. However, no such venues are located within Doral. 

Compact Concerns

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a longtime ally of former President Donald Trump, in April reached a new Class III gaming compact with the powerful Seminole Tribe. 

The terms afford the tribe to retain its monopoly on full-scale gambling, and adds craps, roulette, and sports betting to their seven casinos across the state. In exchange, the Seminoles must share at least $500 million a year in gaming revenue with Florida.

Parts of the compact have raised concerns among some critics. The tribal casino pact requires that the Seminoles no longer attempt to interfere with a slot machine license in Miami-Dade or Broward from being transferred to another location. That’s so long as the new venue is not within 15 miles “in a straight line” of a Seminole casino.

Trump Doral is 17 miles by way the crow flies from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. Though the DeSantis compact does not allow decoupling — the idea of allowing a slot license to be transferred to a facility that does not have racing or jai alai — there are apprehensions in South Florida that state politicians could pass such legislation in the future. That could, at least theoretically, allow someone like billionaire Phil Ruffin, another Trump ally who owns Miami Casino and its slot license, to transfer the gaming permit to Trump Doral. 

In March, Eric Trump said Trump Doral is “unmatched from a gaming perspective. At 800 acres, properties just don’t exist of that size and quality in South Florida, let alone in the heart of Miami.”

Trump Doral is said to be struggling financially. The property offers guests four golf courses, 643 guestrooms, 100,000 square feet of event space, a spa, pool oasis, and three restaurants. 

Preemptive Steps

Doral Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez told the Miami Herald that the ordinance is another safeguard against casino gambling coming to town without the will of the people. 

We wanted to make sure we weighed in,” Bermudez explained. “We will take whatever steps necessary. We are making it clear that the home rule aspect of it is something we will fiercely protect.”

The ordinance bans gambling unless the city holds a ballot referendum and local residents vote in favor of allowing casino gambling.