Fontainebleau Resort will not get casino license this year, Wilton Simpson says
TALLAHASSEE, FLA. 4/29/21-Senate President Wilton Simpson, R-Trilby, monitors his chamber, Thursday at the Capitol in Tallahassee. COLIN HACKLEY PHOTO

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Simpson also ruled out transferring a license to former President Donald Trump’s country club in Doral.

Senate President Wilton Simpson has shut down speculation surrounding the Fontainebleau Resort receiving a casino license in the upcoming Special Session, according to an interview from CBS Miami.

“We will not contemplate moving a casino license out to the Fontainebleau,” Simpson told CBS Miami.

The statement comes amid concern from critics that during the upcoming Special Session, when the Legislature is scheduled to reconvene to take up a new gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe, lawmakers would attempt to transfer resort owner Jeff Soffer’s casino permit from his Big Easy Casino in Hallandale Beach to his Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.

Notably, Soffer has spent more than a million dollars in campaign contributions and hosting elaborate fundraisers for Republicans on his mega yacht. Soffer donated more than $1 million to Republicans in 2020, including nearly $400,000 to the Republican Party of Florida, and $350,000 to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Simpson also ruled out transferring a license to former President Donald Trump’s country club in Doral.

According to the Senate President, the transfer of casino licenses is not the focus of the Special Session, which will begin May 17.

“I do not think that that’s being contemplated in this special session,” Simpson told CBS Miami. “I actually, I know it’s not. We put out the call yesterday and it would prohibit that type of activity.”

Simpson, who sets the rules of the Special Session, has gone as far as to govern that any Senator who proposes transferring or moving a casino license would be ruled out of order, a senior Republican aide told CBS Miami.

Simpson has taken the reins on a prospective deal with the Seminoles, as he has for the past three years. The 75-page document will determine the long-term future of gaming in the state and the Legislature must ratify the compact before it goes into effect.

Simpson has worked with the Seminoles to nail down a 30-year compact, but he was unable to convince Gov. Ron DeSantis and House leaders to endorse a plan during the past two Legislative Sessions.

The Special Session will also address three gaming bills. Two bills would establish a gaming commission. The third would remove the live racing requirement for certain gaming permit holders.

Kelly Hayes

Kelly Hayes studied journalism and political science at the University of Florida. Kelly was born and raised in Tampa Bay. A recent graduate, she enjoys government and legal reporting. She has experience covering the Florida Legislature as well as local government, and is a proud Alligator alum. You can reach Kelly at [email protected]


One comment

  • eric keaton

    May 10, 2021 at 11:54 am

    LoL LoL LoL LoL LoL
    Jeff Soffer donates that much to the republican politicians – throws yacht parties – does not invite one seminole – and then expects the republican party to place language into the tribal compact that would allow the transfer of his license from the one location to another without acknowledging the very group in control of the compact. LoL
    Jeff Soffer should’ve sat down with everyone at the table. Now him and Donald are twiddling thumbs when the people of florida have been waiting to vote for the right to offer class 4 gaming – how can you compete with a nation like the tribe that doesn’t abide to the same monopoly laws that florida must abide to.??
    I remember back when Donald tried to pull a fast one over the tribe. And today he still can’t get a trump casino anywhere within 100 miles of a seminole tribe casino. anyways.. this was a good laugh.

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