The Florida Gaming Control Commission held off on approving the sale of Miami’s Magic City Casino to the Poarch Band of Creek Indians Thursday to allow more information about the sale to reach the public.
The pari-mutuel with over 800 slot machines has been owned and operated by the Havenick family since the early 1930s. As a parimutuel, it had primarily been a dog racing track for several decades but Florida voters ended greyhound races through a constitutional amendment in 2018.
The Florida Gaming Control Commission was put into action in 2021 and has a stated mission to, “preserve and protect the integrity of gaming activities through fair regulation, licensing effective criminal investigation, and enforcement.”
The proposed sale, which could still be completed before the end of the year, involves only gambling activities at the casino – other gambling operations owned by the Havenicks, including a Bonita Springs card room permit and summer jai-alai and card games in Miami would not be affected.
Highly Redacted Document
Over 100 pages of the 103-page application were redacted. In addition to the application, a four-page memorandum produced by the commission that recommended the sale’s approval was included in publicly available paperwork.
While gambling enthusiasm remains high in Florida, so does baked-in opposition from various forces. Some in the past have been associated with Disney by some reports, others connected to existing or potential operators trying to keep down the competition, and others yet, simply attributed to religious and other “moral responsibility” groups opposed to gambling.
The “advocacy” group, No Casinos Inc., asked the gaming commission to delay approval of the license transfer application so that the public could learn more about it. No Casinos president, John Sowinski said that the commission was created “to really elevate the public discussion and bring out in the forefront these types of decisions that are made about the gambling industry in our state,” according to a report in the SunSentinel.
Noting the level of redactions of content in the application, Sowinski, said: “The public should have the ability to see and kick the tires of everything that is not truly, truly a trade secret.”
Counsel for the seller, John Lockwood told commissioners the whole deal could fall apart if the deal isn’t closed within the next month.
“This is such a simple and narrow transaction. I had no idea it was going to become such a hotly discussed topic at this commission,” Lockwood said.
Prior to the commission panel being created the application would have been approved or denied behind closed doors. Lockwood said he has worked with the commission since August.
“I’m not taking the position that 메이저사이트 every single thing that we submitted to this commission is trade secret,” he said while promising “to provide a less-redacted document,” to the commission.
“But again, I would implore the commission to not delay this transaction into next year because I do have fears as to what that would involve for this entire deal,” he said.
Sunshine Law Provisions Not Met
Commission Chair John MacIver said that while there was nothing objectionable in the application, he was concerned about compliance with Florida’s Government-in-the-Sunshine law, which is an open meetings law providing a right of access to governmental proceedings at both the state and local levels.
“If there is an over-redaction of material that the public has not had an opportunity to consider prior to us taking action, I think it would be inappropriate for us to take action at this time,” MacIver said.
The Poarch Creeks already run two gambling facilities in the state but are most well known nationally for their Wind Creek Hospitality holding which purchased Sands Bethlehem in Pennsylvania for $1.3b in 2019. Wind Creek owns gambling facilities in Aruba, Curacao, Chicago, Alabama, and Nevada.
Legal representatives for the Seminole Tribe of Florida (Hardrock) asked the commission to move forward with caution as the translation oversight could set a precedent for future changes in ownership at gambling facilities.
Magic City’s counsel noted that intervention or objections to a change in ownership by third parties would be without any legal authority.