Gulfstream Park

Gulfstream Park

Coglianese Photos

Gulfstream's Casino Request Rejected

Track sought permission to move racing permit to a Miami bay front site for a casino.

The Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering has rejected a request from  Gulfstream Park to move a racing permit to a Miami bay front site where it wants to build a casino in a partnership headed by Malaysian-based resort developer Genting Group.

The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders' and Owners' Association and the Florida Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association are the other members of the partnership. (Related story)

In an order issued March 14, the Florida DPMW said Gulfstream's request was for a shift of a pari-mutuel permit across a county linea transfer that is not allowed in Florida.

But members of the partnership remain hopeful that the Florida legislature this year will approve the transfer of the permit and the plan for a casino, said Lonny Powell, CEO of the Florida TBOA, March 18.

Gulfstream President Tim Ritvo was not available for comment.

Gulfstream wants to transfer its second racing permit, the non-profit Gulfstream Park Thoroughbred After Racing Program, from its property that straddles Broward and Miami-Dade counties to the downtown Miami site in Miami-Dade County.

Most of Gulfstream's 250-acre property and its address are in Hallandale Beach in Broward County. The southern portion, including the starting gate for one turn mile dirt races, is in Aventura in Miami-Dade County.

In correspondence with the Florida DPMW, Gulfstream has listed Aventura as the address for the GPTARP permit.

But in the March 14 notice, sent to attorney Marc Dunbar who represents Gulfstream, the Florida DPMW said the GPTARP permit is for Broward.

The proposed Genting-Gulfstream casino would have about 2,000 slot machines and a simulcast center.

As a non-profit, it would allocate portions of the slots revenue for Thoroughbred retirement and aftercare programs, disabled jockeys, workers' compensation funds to help protect owners, long term capital improvement funds at Gulfstream Park to be used exclusively for racing related projects at the track, and a long term marketing program designed to create more Thoroughbred racing fans.

The partners also are emphasizing that the casino slots revenues would enhance purses, greatly expand stakes and prize money for Florida-bred stakes races and stakes winners, and provide a boost to Florida-bred awards and incentives.

"With legislators, we are emphasizing the non-profit aspects," Powell said. "The FTBOA and Genting are very active, with support of our other partners."

The partnership plan is in effect a back-up for Genting, which again this year is lobbying the legislature to approve new "destination resorts" with hotels and casinos. Genting would almost certainly be awarded one of those resorts at the Miami property it bought from the Miami Herald in 2011.

Those casinos would have Florida's first legal roulette and craps games as well as the Las Vegas-style slot machines that are at pari-mutuel casinos in Miami-Dade and Broward, and at the Seminole Tribe's casinos in five Florida counties.

Genting owns and operates the Resorts World New York Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, N.Y.

Both Genting-led proposals are facing opposition from House and Senate members who are opposed to any expansion of gambling. The Senate Gaming Committee's main bill, S.B. 7052, includes the destination resorts proposal but not the Gulfstream proposal.

In the House Gaming Committee, H.B. 1383 does not have either proposal. It is anticipated that members of that committee will consider adding the Gulfstream proposal during a hearing March 19.

The legislature will end its session May 2.