The Real Deal Miami

Las Vegas billionaire buys 21-acre Casino Miami, plans hotel

Phil Ruffin paid cash for the 200K sf facility near Miami International Airport
By Katherine Kallergis | December 06, 2018 01:00PM

Phil Ruffin (Credit: Getty Images)

Las Vegas billionaire Phil Ruffin is gambling on a new city.

Ruffin, who owns the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Vegas and a number of other businesses, bought Casino Miami, a 21-acre casino near Miami International Airport at 3500 Northwest 37th Avenue, according to a press release.

Property records show Fronton Holdings LLC, tied to Boston-based Summit Partners, sold the sprawling site. The 200,000-square-foot facility includes 1,000 slot machines with a license to hold up to 2,000, an electronic table game area with digital blackjack and roulette, a club, bar, restaurant, jai-alai games and betting.

Ruffin said in a statement that he looks forward to entering the gaming market with this deal, and expects to unveil plans for the property soon. It will remain Casino Miami. He told the Wichita Eagle that he paid cash for the property, but declined to disclose a purchase price. He also said he plans to build a hotel on the site.

By purchasing an operating casino, Ruffin is bypassing a new Florida law that requires any future gambling facility not located on tribal land be approved by 60 percent of Florida voters.

Voters approved the ballot measure in November, which means that developers like Jeffrey Soffer, who has long been rumored to try to bring gambling to his Fontainebleau Miami Beach, would have to launch a statewide campaign to approve it at his properties. (He would also need to go to Florida voters should he decide to expand the Mardi Gras Casino and Race Track, which he purchased in April for $12.5 million, renaming the property the Big Easy Casino.)

Ruffin, who co-owns the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas with President Trump, is worth an estimated $2.5 billion. He has his hand in a number of hotels, casinos, greyhound racing tracks, oil production and other industries.