Jeffrey Soffer Advocates for Gambling Renewal at Fontainebleau Miami BeachJanuary 19, 2024
Aventura-based billionaire developer Jeffrey Soffer is intensifying efforts to secure a casino for his oceanfront resort, Fontainebleau Miami Beach, by making substantial political contributions in recent months. According to the Miami Herald, Soffer, through Fontainebleau Development, contributed over $300,000 to the Republican Party of Florida and political action committees supporting Florida legislators.
As the two-month legislative session commenced, lawmakers introduced identical bills in the Florida House and Senate. These bills propose allowing gambling permit holders to transfer licenses to a new location within 30 miles and override any local government restrictions on gambling.
Soffer, who acquired Hallandale Beach’s Big Easy Casino in 2018, has been seeking approval to shift the gambling permit to Fontainebleau Miami Beach but has faced setbacks. Despite opening Fontainebleau Las Vegas in December, a $2.8 billion, 67-story hotel-casino, Soffer’s attempts in Tallahassee have been unsuccessful.
Critics argue that the proposed bills may violate a 2018 constitutional amendment granting voters the exclusive right to authorize casino gambling expansions. Miami Beach residents, in particular, have opposed gambling, passing a measure in 2017 that bans gambling facilities throughout the city.
Undeterred by opposition, Soffer continued his political contributions in September, with entities tied to Fontainebleau Miami Beach and Big Easy Casino donating to the Republican Party of Florida and Principled Moral Conservatism, a PAC chaired by Representative Alex Rizo, sponsor of the House gambling bill.
In June, Soffer entities also contributed to the Florida Senatorial Republican Campaign Committee and PACs affiliated with Miami-Dade Republican lawmakers. Notably, Fontainebleau Miami Beach is likely to face no opposition from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, given the tribe’s exclusive online sports betting rights negotiated in 2021 and its agreement not to oppose new casinos more than 15 miles from its Hollywood facilities—Fontainebleau Miami Beach being approximately 17 miles away.