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Front Page » Government » Miami puts up gambling barrier – sort of

Miami puts up gambling barrier – sort of

Written by on November 27, 2013

Miami commissioners last week voted 3-0 to ban gambling in new leases on city-owned land but made clear that they expect an unnamed tenant to soon seek an exception to the rule.

If signed by Mayor Tomás Regalado, the ordinance would not affect current leases, including the just-approved, heatedly debated Grove Harbour marina project.

“You don’t retroactively do anything” by state law about banning gambling on current leaseholds, said the measure’s sponsor, Marc Sarnoff.

Still, commissioners and new City Attorney Victoria Méndez discussed just how the procedure would work when a new city tenant wanted to apply for an exception to permit gambling.

They finally agreed that gambling approval would require two commission votes, one to get an exception to the ordinance based on undefined criteria such as size of the leasehold or location, and another on the deal for the lease itself.

“You actually want to make it hinder” the process of allowing gambling, noted Commissioner Frank Carollo. “You get the debate” twice that way, Mr. Sarnoff said.

To get a change in the law, Mr. Carollo noted, “they will have to come before us and some commissioner will have to propose an amendment concerning this ordinance.”

Mr. Sarnoff said he wanted the ordinance in order to make the point that “generally speaking, as a policy, we should not gamble on our own property.”

But, he noted, if the state permits gambling “any commissioner can say I want to revisit” the issue and could by vote except any property from the ordinance “or you can even withdraw the ordinance.”

“I have a feeling” this will be coming soon, said Mr. Carollo, but “it won’t be me” requesting a gambling waiver.

“They can come to the commission,” said Commissioner Willy Gort, “and the commission can make the change at that time.”