Miami Beach Makes Move To Ban Casino Locations Within Jurisdiction
Earlier this week, Florida’s lawmakers were scrambling to pass new regulations on state gambling expansion that ultimately failed to make headway. Meanwhile, the city of Miami Beach brought forward two city ordinances that effectively banned casinos from operating within city limits.
According to local news source The Miami Herald as legislators attempted to open the doors for a new casino in the southern region of the state, Miami Beach officials fast-tracked a ban on any gambling facilities within their own jurisdiction.
Commissioner Joy Malakoff had called an emergency session to deliberate the amendments and send them on to the city’s planning board. The decision was unanimous, with a 6-0 vote from the commission in favor of enacting a gambling venue ban. One board member, Kristen Rosen Gonzales had been absent from the proceedings.
Gonzales had said on Tuesday of this week that she would have supported additional casino ventures if sufficient tax revenue could be routed from the operations to support educational and senior programs. Malakoff made it clear she wouldn’t be having any of it and when the opportunity presented itself to push casinos out the city, she leapt at the chance. In her statements as to her tenacity on the matter she said, “I got involved in the ‘no casino’ movement in the late 1980s. I’ve always thought that it is wrong for this city.”
Commissioner Ricky Arriola echoed Malakoff’s sentiments with his own statement, arguing that, “If there is a mega-casino in Miami, it will begin a cascade because every hotel is going to say, ‘I need slot machines to compete. The legislature put us in a bad situation.”
Another meeting is scheduled to be held on May 11 to solidify the plans to change the city’s zoning laws, which will effectively ban gaming of any kind in Miami Beach.
While city officials were quick to pass the new zoning regulations, operators were there to urge a more cautioned approach to the matter. The Fontainebleau Hotel is one such entity with an interest in applying for a slots license, should the state legislators have passed an approval for gaming expansion. The hotel’s president, Phillip Golfarb, pleaded the commission to hear him out and reconsider their stance. In an interview with the Miami Herald, he said, “It is premature for the City Commission to consider any new legislation on an issue that has not been finalized by the state Legislature. The City Commission should wait and understand the economic and tourism impacts, as well as the effect it could have on the city’s tax revenues.”
Kristen Gonzales acquiesced when questioned on Wednesday about the commission’s decision, stating “I would let the Fontainebleau have a casino. The majority of residents never go there. I never go there. It is an island unto its own.” She went on to add that the casino would have to be an upscale venue “like the casinos in Monte Carlo.”
In response to Goldfarb’s opposition to the recent vote, activists and community members spoke out in support of city officials. One activist, Frank Del Veccio, said that the Soffer’s, the family which owns the Fontainebleau, should also be opposed to the expansion of gaming as it would bring a negative social impact to the city, saying, “It is devastating. The Fontainebleau should step up to the plate as a longtime citizen of this community. Junk the gambling.”
Norman Braman, Art Basel Miami Beach committee chairman and a local car dealership owner put it plainly that, “Gambling is not compatible with a world-class art fair. We need to be cognizant of how gambling will hurt our community.”
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