Miami Beach mayor, business owners oppose gambling in Florida

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The mayor of Miami Beach and other business owners said they do not want gambling in Florida, as Tallahassee lawmakers reconvene for a special session to discuss the compact reached between the state and the Seminole Tribe.

Last week, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis reached a tentative new compact with the Seminole Tribe, but Tallahassee lawmakers have to ratify the 30-year agreement.

However, some, like Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, have pushed back against the state, saying voters decided on the matter in 2018.

“The citizens of the state of Florida said, very simply, loudly to the Florida legislature, ‘We don’t want you putting gambling in our backyard. We don’t want you putting it in our phones. We want to have a say,’” Gelber said. “We do not believe the Florida legislature should be expanding gambling in a way that is inconsistent with the Florida Constitution.”

Other business owners joined the mayor on Monday, as state lawmakers discuss whether or not to expand gambling and allow sports betting.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Armando Codina, of Codina Partners, said. “This is not a Republican or Democrat issue. This is an issue about my grandchildren.”

Officials said the compact would bring $2.5 billion over the first five years and create thousands of jobs.

The Seminole Tribe would be allowed to offer sports betting at their casinos in South Florida. The tribe would also be allowed to introduce craps and roulette at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. The deal would also allow the tribe to add three additional facilities within its Hollywood reservation.

“Since when do the voters votes not count? Since when do they not matter? They do matter, and we voted no,” Joe’s Stone Crab owner Steve Saywitz said. “I, as a restaurant owner, as a business owner and as a resident of my beloved Miami Beach do not want it here.”

The original compact between the Seminole tribe and the state expired in 2015. There have been several efforts to get a new compact passed, but those attempts have failed.

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