Miami may bar more gambling venues

Written by John Charles Robbins on January 25, 2022


Miami may bar more gambling venues

Miami commissioners are one move from banning new gambling within the city, and that could come today (1/27).

On the agenda is legislation to amend Miami 21 zoning “to prohibit gambling facilities.” The measure is scheduled for a second and final vote. In July 2021, the Planning, Zoning and Appeals Board recommended the ban on a 6-3 vote.

The proposal made it past its first hurdle in October as the commission voted for adoption. Sponsor Ken Russell voted yes, joined by Joe Carollo and then-commissioner Jeffrey Watson. Voting against were Alex Diaz de la Portilla and Manolo Reyes. In November’s election a new player came on the scene as now-Chair Christine King defeated Mr. Watson.

The proposal notes the commission has considered whether it “will further the goals, objectives, and policies of the Miami Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan, the Miami 21 Code, and other applicable City regulations.”

The existing code allows gambling facilities “by Exception,” provided the commission approves their construction by a four-fifths vote. The proposed amendment would remove this provision.

The amendment would more fully define what constitutes a gambling facility: “Any facility that offers gambling, pari-mutuel, or other wagering activities and uses including, but not limited to, facilities regulated by (Florida Statutes). “A facility is not a ‘Gambling Facility’ if the only gambling, pari-mutuel, or other wagering activities and uses it offers are online sports wagering, lotteries administered by the state … or charity bingo games,” it reads.

The ban would remain unless a constitutional amendment were to allow casino-style gambling statewide.

The proposal says existing gambling facilities may continue to operate as legal nonconforming uses. It specifically names “the summer jai alai fronton, cardroom, and sports wagering” planned by West Flagler Associates in Edgewater. Litigation between the company and city was settled earlier. West Flagler Associates’ facility would be a legal nonconforming facility under the amendment.

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