Miami Beach City Leaders Votes to Ban Brick-and-Mortar Casinos

Leaders in the city of Miami Beach voted unanimously to ban brick-and-mortar casinos. The decision comes after the Florida State Legislature considered a bill which would approve another South Florida casino license.

Miami’s leaders passed two separate ordinances that would ban casinos or other types of gambling facilities (racinos) inside the city limits of Miami. Civic leaders characterized the decisions as the kind of decision a vibrant, economically successful city makes.

Philip Levine: “Cities That Don’t Have a Future”

In a swipe at Atlantic City and other cities which embraced the gambling culture, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine told a reporter from the Miami Herald, “Casinos are great for cities that have a challenging future; that don’t have a real vision. If you have a city that doesn’t have a future, that doesn’t know where it wants to go, I understand. But when you have a city like Miami Beach, why try to fix something that’s not broken?

Residents have expressed concerns for years that a casino would be built on Miami Beach. Politicians on Miami Beach have maintained a similar stance, mirroring what the bulk of residents want. Friday’s decision goes a step further and codifies local attitudes.

Kristen Rosen Gonzales Voted “No Casinos”

Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez is a good example of how the issue developed recently. As late as Tuesday, Commisisoner Rosen Gonzales said she could see herself voting for a casino bill, if the tax revenues were put toward programs for the elderly and local education.

On Friday, as she appeared for the vote, she told the Miami Herald she was ready to vote “Yes”, but then added, “Yes to ‘No Casinos’.

Thus, the island city is spared the possibility of a casino now, though a South Florida casino license still might apply to other suburbs of Miami. The local ordinances come at a time when it appears likelier that a South Florida casino might be feasible.

Florida Senate’s 32-6 Vote to Expand Gambling

In late-March, the Florida Senate voted 32-6 to approve a broad group of gambling initiatives. The Senate Bill approved an expansion of gambling for nontribal operators, in exchange for an expansion of table games for the Seminole Tribe’s casinos.

The bill includes the right for Florida counties to approve slot machines for their area, along with pari-mutuel racetracks with casinos to end racing altogether. Also, South Florida pari-mutuels could offer blackjack on their premises. In return, the Seminole Tribe casinos would be allowed to offer craps and roulette for the first time.

House of Representatives’ Vote

The Florida House of Representatives a few days earlier passed a gambling bill that was much different. It stopped the expansion of gambling the Florida Senate wanted, but at the same time sought to increase the tax revenues the Seminole Tribe would pay.

While the House Bill might look like a non-starter, it might have the opposite effect. While the Seminoles might have opposed a vast expansion of gambling in Florida which would introduce greater competition, the House Bill introduced a less attractive alternative: no craps or roulette for the Seminoles, but higher taxes. Eventually, the House and Senate went into a conference to determine a consensus plan.

Florida Supreme Court on Slot Machines

Meanwhile, a decision in the Florida Supreme Court on April 23 added another level to the intrigue. The Supreme Court decided that a county’s voters should have the right to decide on slot machine gambling. It had been proposed that the state legislature had the sole right.

The various legislation and litigation might never come to anything. All in all, the possibility was raised to add a South Florida casino, which a multibillion dollar company like Las Vegas Sands Corp or Genting Group Limited would own. That would put a massive new casino-resort in the middle of Miami, dominating the landscape.

Miami Suburbs Which Might Host Casinos

Thus, the Miami Beach City Council decided to put an end to all speculation. Once again, other suburbs of Miami might not have the same scruples. But then, those cities might fall under the description Philip Levine offered.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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