• There is a bill coming to Florida that’s purpose is to allow the Trump Doral to turn into a casino.
  • Casino gaming in Florida has been a tribal-only business making the likelihood of passage less than favorable.
  • The Florida Legislature opened for their 2021 session on March 2 and will adjourn for the year on April 30.

MIAMI – Rumors are swirling that a bill will be introduced in the coming weeks that would allow former President Donald Trump and his Trump Organization to open up casino gaming in South Florida. The Trump Doral, currently a golf course, would expand into a full-blown casino establishment if the proposal were to become legal.

“Many people consider Trump Doral to be unmatched from a gaming perspective — at 700 acres, properties just don’t exist of that size and quality in South Florida, let alone in the heart of Miami,” said Eric Trump, the head of the Trump Organization.

Is It Possible?

Trump has been a part of the casino gaming business before. The Trump Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City was the place where he made his break into the industry in the ‘90s only to have it end in bankruptcy. The establishment no longer exists but its failure leaves much to be desired for anyone willing to consider a bill that would give his organization the opportunity to try his hand at entering the gambling market again.

Outside of his past flop, there is also the question of legal betting in Florida happening outside of the tribes.

All gaming has been a strictly tribal business in the Sunshine State and to try and change that would be an uphill battle. It’s been a hot topic for over eight years with little to no progress on the matter. But so many of these discussions happen behind closed doors that it’s hard to say what’s what in terms of actual progress for 2021.

Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson will be sponsoring the Trump bill that will have its first introductions within the Florida Legislature in the weeks ahead.

“Gaming negotiations are extremely complicated, and while Simpson believes the efforts are worthy, it is also important to be realistic about where we are,” said Katie Betta, a spokesperson for Simpson. “The Senator has been involved in these negotiations for years, and if they get to a place where he believes an agreement would benefit the State of Florida and have the support of his colleagues in the Legislature as well as the Governor, he would be happy to discuss further details.”

No details of the bill have been disclosed by Simpson or Trump as both have declined to comment.

The Takeaway

Not only are tribes in Florida resistant to give their gaming exclusivity away to commercial businesses, but lawmakers are also hesitant to do so.

Florida has not wanted to go against the tribes on any gambling matters, including legal sports betting where many bills have been drafted to be heard in 2021. But to have a former President try and open a casino in the Sunshine State may not be in the cards even with this new bill.

Real estate developers have said they would slowly pull out of all of their investments in the area should the bill become legal. They believe that Doral is a family-oriented city that does not need to add a casino to the area. And those in the legislature are also speaking out in opposition of this proposal.

“This guy has bankrupted every casino he’s ever run. How do you bankrupt a casino?” said Representative Joseph Geller. “I don’t think we need a failed casino. We don’t want to be the next Atlantic City.”

Whether it’s Trump and casinos or other operators and sportsbooks, they’ve all been dealt a bad hand at trying to break through into the gambling industry of Florida. Insiders remain hopeful, but the 2021 legislative session will be a battle between Tribes and the state to make any form of gaming a legal market for the Sunshine State. Floridians will have to continue to place their bets at tribal locations in the state or with legal mobile sportsbooks until an agreement can be reached between the two entities.

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