As Miami Looks to Regulate Gambling, A Proposed Poker Facility Might Be in Trouble

Magic City Casino

Magic City CasinoAfter proposing a poker room and jai alai facility in Edgewater, Magic City Casino might have issues offering such services if the city of Miami moves forward with plans to regulate gambling.

During a City Commission hearing in Miami, Florida this past week, things got heated as a casino owner was incensed by moves made by commissioners to regulate gambling in the state. Magic City Casino recently proposed a plan to create a poker room and jai alai facility in the area of Edgewater. A permit was given by state gaming regulators to do so, but now Magic City may be at risk if regulations are made for gambling in the region.

Regulators Mount Up

The city’s zoning code, Miami 21, was approved for gambling regulations by the commission with a vote of 4 to 0. With this vote, the commission made an agreement that for new gambling establishments to be created in the region, four votes are needed for approval out of the five member group instead of the normal three.

Commissioners Ken Russell and Willy Gort proposed the change while Keon Hardemon, the chairman of the commission, was not in support of the change, decided not to vote. It seems he would have voted against to try and sway others to his side, but instead conceded.

The city attorney’s office will now move to draft an ordinance for the commissioners to consider later on in the year. The vote was reportedly not targeted at the Magic City Casino to try and block their proposal to offer gaming in the region. However, the city attorney’s office stated that the vote gives notice to Magic City that their owners will be seeking approvals at their own risk and they are not guaranteed to be considered for approval based on existing zoning laws.

Arguing the Point

Ron Book, a lobbyist for Magic City, commented that letters provided to the owners of the facility from the planning department of the city state that gambling they will offer falls under a zoning designation known as entertainment, based on the code of the city. The venue owner applied for permits based on the fact that they say city zoning in Edgewater allows for a gambling establishment.

The city attorney’s office says differently. They feel that the zoning verification letters are just that, letters that do not grant particular rights and they can be challenged and discussed further. A challenge may be in the future as Book has said that Magic City would take the city to court to solve the matter.

Magic City Casino owners want to create the gambling establishment as part of a development, with state regulators having approved a permit to do just that. The owners feel that the zoning laws were changed just to target the future business. Isadore Havenick is the West Flagler Associates vice president, the company behind the project, who said that he is deeply disappointed and saddened that the city would change the rules of the game.

Commission members reportedly say they did not propose the changes as a way to take on the gaming venue but as a way to provide residents with notification that a proposed gambling facility in their vicinity would be made known and they can then weigh in with the commission before any changes are allowed.

It will be interesting to see how Magic City Casino will proceed after this recent commission vote. Will the group take the city to court over the matter? Will they will be able to offer gaming in the future? Only time will tell.