The Trump Card: Former President’s Son Hints At Trump National Doral Becoming A Casino

Written By JR Duren on March 30, 2021 - Last Updated on July 6, 2021

Trump National Doral Casino? Maybe.

The struggling Trump National Doral near Miami, owned by former President Donald Trump, could capitalize on a Florida bill that would allow more gambling in the state by reimagining itself as a full-fledged casino.

“Many people consider Trump Doral to be unmatched from a gaming perspective — at 700 acres, properties just don’t exist of that size and quality in South Florida, let alone in the heart of Miami,” Trump’s son, Eric, said in a recent statement.

The statement comes amid escalating talks to expand gaming and sports betting in Florida, as well as decreased revenue at the Trump Doral property.

Why a Trump Doral casino isn’t a slam dunk … for Now

In 2010, then-Gov. Charlie Crist signed a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The deal gave the tribe exclusive rights to blackjack and Vegas-style slots.

The move was a death knell for the hopes of non-tribal casinos outside of South Florida. However, the agreement included a carve-out: South Florida establishments could offer Vegas-style slots.

As a result, Miami is the state’s non-tribal epicenter for gaming, but only to a limited extent. You can play Vegas slots, but blackjack is out of the question.

What results is a smattering of casinos in Florida that don’t quite compare to the Seminole’s flagship Hard Rock properties.

Why Florida may see a Trump Casino in the future

Though the current legal framework would allow the Trump enterprise a whimper of a casino, a roar may be coming.

Over the past three months, six different bills related to sports betting have hit the state legislature floor.

A seventh bill is believed to be in negotiations behind closed doors, a rumor that has some weight based on a recent meeting between Gov. Ron DeSantis and more than 20 owners of pari-mutuel properties in the Sunshine State.

The alleged bill has the backing of developer Jeffrey Soffer, owner of the iconic Miami hotel Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Soffer has a license to operate slots in Broward County and wants to use that license for a South Florida casino.

All of these rumored developments could be a lifeline for Trump’s Doral property. According to federal filings, the well-known golfing and resort property generated around $44 million in 2020, down from more than $72 million in 2019.

Both Soffer and Trump have ties to the Florida Republican party. In 2019, Soffer’s JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort hosted the  Florida GOP’s annual Statesmen Dinner. Trump’s ties to Florida are manifold. DeSantis has been a vocal Trump supporter, and the Sunshine State is home to Trump’s main residence, Mar-a-Lago.

With all of the money and clout the two tycoons have, it’s not a stretch to imagine the legislative tide turning in favor of Soffer and Trump.

What’s next for Florida gaming?

There are six different sports betting bills in the state legislature. And while a new casino-focused bill is rumored, there has been no bill presented on the Senate floor in Tallahassee.

The existing sports betting bills provide a framework for licensing, regulations and tax structures.

A bill from Sen. Chip LaMarca and Sen. Anika Omphroy proposes a $7.5 million one-time license fee, a $1 million yearly renewal fee and a 22.5% tax on revenue minus payouts.

Competing bills from Sen. Jeff Brandes propose a $100,000 licensing fee and a 15% tax rate.

Photo by AP / Wilfredo Lee
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JR Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the gambling beats for more than a dozen states for Catena Media since 2015. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun, and he is a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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