Billionaire Businessman Takes a Stand Against Miami Beach Casinos

Miami’s casino scene is facing a contentious issue as Jeff Soffer, a prominent figure in the industry, seeks to transfer the operating license from Hallandale Beach to the Fontainebleau Miami Beach resort. However, this move has not been well-received by some influential figures in the community.

Billionaire hedge funder Ken Griffin, a major donor to the Republican party and a real estate investor in Florida, has publicly expressed his opposition to this transfer of the casino license. Griffin, who has played a significant role in the development of South Florida, believes that opening casinos poses a threat to the state’s prosperity. In an open letter to the Miami Herald, he argued that casinos lead to higher crime rates, decreased property values, and increased gambling addiction. Griffin specifically cited Senate Bill 1054 and House Bill 1127, which could potentially allow the transfer of licenses to other properties within a 30-mile radius.

The contentious issue revolves around Soffer’s attempts to move the license from his Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach to the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, both owned by Soffer’s company, Fontainebleau Development. To gain support for his cause, Soffer has made substantial political donations, including a $300,000 contribution to the Republican Party of Florida and involvement in various political activities.

Griffin’s opposition to the transfer of casino licenses is rooted in the history of betting in Miami Beach. He emphasized the negative impact of casinos in the area and argued that the proposed bills conflict with a constitutional amendment from 2018 that gave voters the right to determine the expansion of casinos. Back in 2017, voters in Miami Beach decided to prohibit gambling, and city officials have enforced this ban since then.

Griffin’s strong stance against the potential transfer of casino licenses to the Fontainebleau resort reflects the complex dynamics at play in Miami’s gambling industry. The clash of interests between influential figures like Soffer and Griffin has brought attention to the broader implications of casino operations in the region. This ongoing debate will undoubtedly continue to shape the future of Miami’s casino landscape.