The Real Deal Miami

Casino ban in Miami Beach now one step away from reality

Final vote scheduled for July 26
By Francisco Alvarado | May 12, 2017 03:30PM

Fontainebleau Miami Beach

The Miami Beach City Commission gave a preliminary nod to banning casinos in the city, voting 6-0 on the measure on Friday afternoon.

A final vote has been scheduled for July 26.

“I have been on the no casino side for [many] years,” said Commissioner Joy Malakoff. “We are a great city as we are today with our very robust hotel and hospitality industry. This can do nothing but hurt it.”

Commissioner John Elizabeth Aleman said a casino ban is in line with quality-of-life positions the city has taken recently. “Passing this ordinance is consistent with moves we have taken as a body to keep Miami Beach as a place people can live, whether it is fighting short-term rentals or controlling alcohol sales,” Aleman said.

The city commission has moved quickly to enact the legislation in the wake of stalled expansion of gambling facilities in Miami-Dade at the state legislative level. Had the update to Florida gambling laws passed, Malaysian company Genting Group planned to move forward with its push for casino resort on the former site of the Miami Herald on Biscayne Bay. The owners of the Fontainebleau Miami Beach have also indicated they want to compete for a slots license.

For the third time in two weeks, Fontainebleau lawyer Alex Heckler urged city officials to slow down and consider the ramifications of a casino resort in Miami siphoning away visitors from Miami Beach. He also said the city charter requires Miami Beach to conduct an economic impact study prior to passing its legislation prohibiting gambling.

“Please do the economic study before moving forward,” Heckler said. “There is charter-mandated process that is there to protect the city and its businesses and its residents.”