If Donald Trump wants to add a casino to the Trump National Doral Resort in Doral, FL, he’s now going to have to convince a lot of people. The city’s councilmembers met this week and approved a measure that explicitly prohibits gambling and casinos within city limits unless approved by local residents. The move is in direct response to the state’s new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which gives the tribe virtual control of sports gambling in return for the ability to introduce a commercial casino, or casinos, in the South Florida area. Although Doral’s measure isn’t completely necessary, it still makes it clear that the city won’t make it easy for a casino to be added to the local landscape.
No Dice for Doral Casino
Florida residents voted a couple of years ago on a referendum, Amendment 3, that gives them the say on when and where commercial casinos can be built in the state. When Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and state lawmakers signed off on the new Seminole Tribe gaming compact, that agreement included language that would allow the state to issue casino licenses, provided the venues didn’t encroach on tribal market areas. This has already raised legal concerns for potentially breaching that referendum and might cause problems as the Department of the Interior (DoI) decides whether to allow the compact to remain in place.
According to Business Insider, the Doral City Council voted 4-0 this past Wednesday to ban casinos and gambling unless city residents approved the activity through a referendum. This is similar to what Amendment 3 stipulated, which makes the council’s efforts redundant, but effective. The council had approved a similar measure this past May, but the latest approval ensures there’s no question about the city’s intentions. According to Mayor Juan Carlos Bermudez, Doral will “do whatever it takes” to prevent the Doral National resort from becoming a gambling property.
Seminole Gaming Compact Unwelcome in South Florida
Doral isn’t alone in not wanting to see a casino within its borders. The mayor of Miami Beach, Dan Gelber, penned a letter to the DoI, requesting that the compact be rejected for similar reasons. Whether it’s because they don’t want gambling or don’t want to bring in a casino only to have it fail (Trump’s track record in the gaming industry isn’t that great), local leaders in South Florida are doing whatever they can to stop the new gaming compact from being approved.
The idea of converting the Doral National into a gambling resort has been floating around since last year as the property continues to hemorrhage money. However, the language in Amendment 3 expressly prohibits what was included in the Seminole gaming compact, and it should have been obvious to lawmakers that their efforts were going to meet significant resistance. It’s reached the point that citizen-led initiatives are trying to block the agreement, as well, as they argue that any type of gambling expansion in the state, even if it’s conducted by the Seminole tribe, must be approved by voters. The DoI is expected to issue its decision within the next couple of weeks and, even if it signs off on the compact, legal challenges in Florida will remain that could prevent sports gambling from coming to the state.