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Mike Fernandez: If gambling in South Florida passes without referendum, ‘the wrath of the community you will feel’

Mike Fernandez, a billionaire businessman and top Republican donor, is expressing his disappointment in the House and Senate’s decision to “advance and dump” casino expansion efforts on South Florida.

In an email to Sen. Bill Galvano and Rep. Jose Felix Diaz on Thursday, Fernandez criticized the decision to move forward with a proposal that would bring another casino to South Florida.

The provision was part of the latest offer from the Senate as part of ongoing negotiations to strike a compromise on gambling legislation.

The Senate on Thursday agreed to two new gambling facilities in Broward or Miami-Dade or both, through competitive procurement, with up to 1,500 slot machines each.

“I and others are very disappointed with your position to advance and dump the casino expansion efforts on the South Florida community,” wrote Fernandez in his email.

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“Once again it is cynical to see those elected officials who proclaim their devotion to faith based initiatives, contradict themselves when simultaneously supporting the expansion of programs that erode the God-like values which are the foundation of our Nation and State.”

He continued by saying the “arrogance of those in public office and who set their priorities ahead of the needs and desires of their constituents will not be ignored.”

Miami-Dade officials have urged lawmakers to give county voters a say before approving new casinos. Mayor Carlos Gimenez told the Miami Herald this week that he indicated to both Diaz and Galvano that there “has to be a referendum by the people of Miami-Dade.”

The Herald reported that the Miami Beach City Commission unanimously adopted a resolution this week opposing a casino on the beach, and commissioners warned there was no guarantee the city would approve a permit for a new casino.

The Fontainebleau hotel has indicated it was interested in pursuing a license if Miami-Dade could get an additional one.

“This attack to the social fiber of a community who has spent decades creating a progressive environment which has delivered technological and financial advancement, as well as fosters the existence of the largest concentration of multinational business headquarters, is insulting to the 3 million people of South Florida,” said Fernandez.

Fernandez also issued an ominous warning, telling Galvano and Diaz if “gaming in South Florida passes, without a referendum and the approval of affected residents … the wrath of the community you will feel.”

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