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Could Eric Trump’s suggestion of turning the Trump National Doral resort in Miami into a gambling destination be what Florida needs to legalize casinos in the state?
“Many people consider Trump Doral to be unmatched from a gaming perspective,” Eric Trump said in an email to The Washington Post. “At 700 acres, properties just don’t exist of that size and quality in South Florida, let alone in the heart of Miami.”
The state currently limits gambling to tribal casinos and horse racing properties, but The Washington Post reports a proposed bill that has not yet been made public would allow “developers to transfer gambling licenses to properties in areas where casinos have long been prohibited and bar local municipal governments from intervening.”
Eric Trump said in a statement to The Washington Post that the Trump’s Doral property in Miami would be a natural choice if that were to happen.
He said the golf resort has suffered from a drop in business due to the pandemic and his father’s “polarizing presidency,” the article states.
Eric Trump, son of former President Donald Trump and head of the Trump Organization, declined to tell The Washington Post whether his company was supporting a bill that has not yet been made publicly available.
When Donald Trump spoke to the Miami-Herald about the renovations the resort was undergoing in 2013, the topic of casinos and what it could provide to the resort and to Miami became a part of the conversation.
“I think gambling is a good thing for Miami,” Donald Trump said. “Whether we have a casino or not doesn’t matter to me. Even if I don’t have a casino it would be good for Doral because it’s going to bring an influx of people to Miami.”
The former president didn’t have much success with the casino empire he attempted to build in Atlantic City in the early 1990s, and The Post reports he repeatedly advocated for the expansion of casinos in Florida before entering politics.
The bill could be introduced later this week or early next week, and The Post reports a person familiar with the situation said the proposal has been in the works for years.
“We’ve been trying to do this for eight years, and this is the closest we’ve gotten,” the individual said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was scheduled to meet Thursday with owners of gambling facilities whose business might be hurt by new casinos, his schedule confirmed. Spokespeople for DeSantis and Trump did not immediately reply to The Posts’ requests for comment.
The article states that although Republicans control the state House, Senate and executive branch, support for gambling expansion has not always fallen along partisan lines — the state constitution also requires that voters ultimately approve gambling through a ballot measure.
Miami-area leaders of both parties have teamed up with Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which operates tribal casinos, to defeat past proposals.
“Two people familiar with the proposal said that in addition to allowing new casinos, the bill would probably introduce sports betting into the state and allow the Seminole tribe to control much of the sports betting market as part of a revised compact with the state,” the Post reports.
Armando Codina, a GOP real estate developer who has built properties in the Doral area, told The Post he was already working to fight the bill because discussions “have happened in a dark room.”
Codina said if it is passed and a casino was allowed, it would make Trump’s Doral resort worth hundreds of millions of dollars more and take away from the current Doral-area.
“I think this would be bad for Florida and I think it would be terrible for Miami-Dade County,” Codina told The Post. “We’ve created a venue that is a family venue. If this was to happen in Doral, we would over time probably sell a bunch of our interests.”
Florida Rep. Joseph Geller, a Democrat who tracks gambling issues, spoke out against the bill stating, “usually the whole thing is done behind the scenes.”
“This guy has bankrupted every casino he’s ever run. How do you bankrupt a casino?” Geller said to The Post. “I don’t think we need a failed casino. We don’t want to be the next Atlantic City.”
Geller said he was not sure there would be wide interest in helping Donald Trump open a gambling operation, even with his popularity among Republicans, with his given the collapse of Trump-run casinos in Atlantic City.