The battle over the potential casino at the Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach is intensifying, with both supporters and opponents gearing up for a heated debate in Tallahassee next week. According to the Miami Herald, a coalition of influential South Florida business figures, led by billionaire Norman Braman and developer Armando Codina, is spearheading a vigorous lobbying effort to thwart legislation that would allow for a Las Vegas-style casino at the iconic resort. This group, along with Miami Beach city officials and residents, is vehemently against expanding casino gambling in the area.

Braman emphasized the community’s strong opposition to casino gambling, stating simply that they did not want it there. Miami Beach Mayor Steven Meiner echoed this sentiment, highlighting the unity among local leaders on the matter.

The controversial proposal, embodied in Senate Bill 1054 and House Bill 1127, is set for its first hearing before state lawmakers on February 5. While the Senate Regulated Industries Committee has confirmed its agenda, House Republican leaders have not disclosed the bill’s fate.

The debate has attracted high-profile figures, including billionaire hedge funder Ken Griffin, who wrote an op-ed condemning the proposed legislation. Griffin warned of the negative consequences of casino expansion, citing research linking it to gambling addiction, increased crime rates, and declining property values.

Meanwhile, the proposal’s sponsor, state Rep. Alex Rizo, has come under scrutiny for his connections to Jeff Soffer, the billionaire owner of the Fontainebleau. Soffer has reportedly made significant political contributions, raising concerns about undue influence.

Opponents of the casino plan have found a powerful ally in Griffin, whose vocal opposition adds weight to their cause. Griffin’s strong stance against the legislation reflects a broader sentiment among Miami-Dade residents and lawmakers, who see the proposed casino as a threat to their community’s well-being.

Sen. Shevrin Jones, representing West Park, emphasized the need to respect the will of the people and urged legislators to reject the casino proposal. Similarly, Miami Republicans, including Sen. Bryan Avila and Ileana Garcia, have voiced reservations about the initiative, indicating potential roadblocks ahead.

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