Florida Gaming Compact Includes Provision That Could Permit Casino at Trump Doral

Posted on: May 20, 2021, 10:28h. 

Last updated on: May 20, 2021, 12:59h.

The Class III gaming compact Florida lawmakers signed off on this week includes a peculiar provision that could one day pave the way for a casino at Trump National Doral Miami.

Trump Doral Florida gaming compact Seminole
Trump National Doral Miami, owned by former President Donald Trump, received some welcomed news in Florida’s latest gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe. The legal document states that the tribe will not contest a hypothetical casino license being issued outside 15 miles from its Hard Rock Hollywood resort. (Image: Getty)

Lawmakers in Tallahassee came to terms yesterday on the 2021 gaming compact between the Seminole Tribe of Florida and the State of Florida

The Native American group that owns six land-based casinos across Florida will pay the state $2.5 billion over the next five years in exchange for exclusivity on sports betting, craps, and roulette. The 30-year agreement also allows the Seminoles to build three new casinos but requires the tribe to end their opposition to pari-mutuel racetracks, jai alai frontons, and racinos operating player-designated games. 

The tribal gaming compact is expected to create a legal battle. In 2018, Florida voters passed a ballot referendum that allows only residents — not lawmakers — to authorize new forms of gaming. 

Once Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signs the compact, as expected, the legal contract will go to the US Department of the Interior for final approval. The federal agency has 45 days to review and rule on the arrangement once received.

Compact Controversy

One very small part of the massive compact language is causing quite an uproar.

The Washington Post reports that a stipulation was slid into the gaming compact that mandates that the Seminoles will not interfere in the future should the state issue a casino license to a business that is more than 15 miles “in a straight line” from the tribe’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.

Just outside that 15-mile radius is Trump National Doral Miami, as is the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Fontainebleau owner Jeffrey Soffer has long unsuccessfully sought casino privileges. 

That line, I don’t know where it came from, but I know why it’s there,” said Rep. Michael Grieco (D-Miami Beach).

“It removes one of the major hurdles that someone would need to jump in order to make a gaming license in Florida portable, and specifically for two or three people, including the owner of the Fontainebleau and our 45th president,” Grieco continued.

But the gaming compact doesn’t make the slot machine licenses in Miami-Dade and Broward counties portable. Efforts to “decouple” the gaming licenses, which are reserved for pari-mutuel facilities and racetracks, failed earlier this year. 

However, if that changes in the future, the compact language regarding the Seminoles’ 15-mile buffer zone for its Hard Rock Hollywood casino would be far more important. 

Trump May Return to Gaming

Former President Donald Trump made part of his fortune by building casinos in Atlantic City and Indiana. However, his Trump Entertainment gaming empire resulted in several bankruptcy filings. 

The 45th president and his family’s organization are considering a return to the gaming industry. Eric Trump, executive vice president of The Trump Organization, said in March that Trump Doral is an ideal setting for a casino.

“Unmatched from a gaming perspective,” the ex-president’s third child and second son said. 

The Trump Organization has spent more than $400 million on the Doral golf resort since it purchased the place in 2012.